How to set up and run a SaaS affiliate program

Affiliate marketing is an ever-growing global industry, and brands are catching on fast. 81% of brands run affiliate programs, including SaaS companies. How do they do it? 

Most successful marketing channels for brand marketers.

Most successful marketing channels for brand marketers (Source: Pepperjam)

Are you a SaaS marketer or CEO wondering how to market your software as a service business effectively? SaaS affiliate programs are an innovative marketing strategy. Affiliate programs transform how businesses reach potential clients by rewarding individuals or companies that refer new users to their products. How can you leverage this powerful marketing tool to maximize your revenue?

First, let’s dive into why your SaaS company should tap into this $12 billion affiliate marketing industry. SaaS affiliate programs have become increasingly popular because they benefit SaaS providers and affiliate marketers. 

Revenue based on marketing channel (Source: Pepperjam)

Revenue based on marketing channel (Source: Pepperjam)

As a result, SaaS marketers have concluded that having a SaaS affiliate program is essential, especially for early-stage SaaS startups. 

So, how can you benefit from launching a SaaS affiliate marketing program?

6 Critical benefits of launching a SaaS affiliate program

  1. Increased sales and brand awareness

    Leverage affiliates' marketing expertise and audience. SaaS companies can reach a broader, newer audience that may have been too difficult or expensive to target without affiliate marketing. Increase your sales at record rates too.

    Monetize without a large team and boost brand awareness. Attract new customers to expand your audience.

    For example, Hubspot’s affiliate program generated over 15% of its revenue in just one year. 83% of affiliates use social media to promote their partnerships, and 93% promote their partnerships on their websites, increasing brand awareness.

    Affiliate marketing importance for customer acquisition (Source: Pepperjam)

    Affiliate marketing importance for customer acquisition (Source: Pepperjam)

  2. Cost-effective & only pay for results

    SaaS affiliate programs improve conversion rates and upselling opportunities. SaaS affiliate programs also provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional marketing. SaaS providers only pay a commission after purchase in affiliate marketing, making it a cost-effective way to acquire new customers.

    You only pay for results – a productive investment.

  3. Generates highly targeted leads & better SEO
    One of the main benefits of SaaS affiliate marketing is generating highly targeted leads. By partnering with affiliates with a specific audience, businesses can reach potential customers more likely to be interested in their product. Affiliates promote to their audiences.
    Studies support the effectiveness of SaaS affiliate programs in generating highly targeted leads. 51% of affiliates target customers in a specific geographic area.

    Affiliate programs can also improve a SaaS company's search engine optimization (SEO) by generating backlinks to the SaaS company's website. This can also increase organic traffic since SaaS companies share the same audience as affiliates. Affiliates can bring customers who may be interested in checking out your website.

  4. Builds trust & credibility
    SaaS affiliate marketing can effectively build trust and credibility with potential customers. By partnering with trusted affiliates, businesses can leverage their credibility and gain the trust of their audience.

    Which SaaS affiliate programs have built trust and credibility? Shopify's affiliate program has helped them expand their brand by partnering with influencers and bloggers.

  5. Build long-term strategic relationships

    Creating long-term relationships with affiliates is crucial for businesses that want to succeed with SaaS affiliate programs. Businesses can leverage their audience and gain loyal brand ambassadors by fostering positive affiliate relationships. 

    For example, ConvertKit’s affiliate program has helped them build a community of dedicated affiliates and influencers.

  6. Provide valuable insights and data

    SaaS affiliate programs can also provide valuable insights and data about customer behavior and preferences. Businesses can gain valuable insights to inform their marketing strategies by tracking affiliate referrals and conversions.

    SEMrush’s affiliate program helped them segment their audience and improve lead generation. 79% of affiliates use analytics to optimize their campaigns too.

    Infographic explaining 6 benefits of launching a SaaS affiliate program

How to set up & manage a winning SaaS affiliate program

  1. Research your competitors

    Do your competitors have an affiliate program? If yes, what are they currently offering? Your affiliate program should be competitive. For example,  don’t offer a 5% commission if your competitors offer a 30% commission! It’s obvious where all the good affiliates will go.

  2. Decide on structure & rates
    Decide on a commission structure that aligns with your business goals and budget. The commission rate typically ranges from 20% to 50%. Furthermore, Is it a flat rate or percentage? What will be the cookie duration? Can everyone join, or will there be an approval form to fill out?
    Consider your business goals and budget when setting your rates. You may also offer bonuses or incentives to top-performing affiliates.
    Customize commission structure & rates with Partnero easily.
    You should also use a payment gateway like PayPal to pay out commissions to affiliates. PayPal offers a reliable and secure ecosystem for online payments. With Partnero, you can automate payouts to keep it transparent and pay affiliates on time.

  3. Ensure distinct branding
    SaaS affiliate program owners should provide various resources for their partners to promote their products successfully. Provide affiliates with SaaS marketing materials such as banner ads, email templates, and social media posts. 

    You can also create custom landing pages for affiliates to use in marketing campaigns. Custom landing pages can help improve conversions and track affiliate performance. Create unique landing pages for each affiliate campaign and ensure they align with the affiliate's marketing message. 

    Creating high-quality marketing materials can help attract potential customers and increase conversions. 

  4. Choose & keep affiliate partners at the forefront
    20% of affiliates partners are responsible for 80% of sales, so recruit with diligence! Select affiliates with a relevant and significant online presence, and strong marketing skills. This could be bloggers or influencers, to help reach a wider audience.

    Ensure affiliates have a good reputation, align with your business values and use ethical marketing practices. By identifying your ideal affiliate, you are better positioned to attract the right partners and boost sales.
    Once you have chosen your partners, create an affiliate agreement template to ensure all parties are on the same page. An affiliate agreement template helps clarify both parties' rules, requirements, and expectations.
    After that, design a partner portal. Provide your partners with essential features and communicate with your partners regularly.

    Keep affiliates updated on promotions, product updates, and commission payouts. Provide them with reports on their performance and offer feedback on their marketing campaigns. Regular contact can help build a strong relationship between the SaaS provider and affiliates. A positive partner experience is everything!

    Lastly, support your affiliates to ensure their success in promoting your software. Provide them with tutorials and training to improve their marketing skills. Offering support can help build loyalty and encourage long-term partnerships. 

  5. Launch & share
    Once you've developed your affiliate program, it's time to launch and promote it to the right audience. Promote your affiliate program effectively. 

    Share your SaaS affiliate program with your customers. Promote your program on social media, website landing pages, and more!
    Now it’s time to put your SaaS affiliate program to the test truly. With Partnero, you can:

    Remember to determine essential KPIs. Examples include rewards, revenue, number of partners, referrals, paid clients, and program insights.

  6. Track, monitor & manage
    Affiliate tracking is a must-have tool for your SaaS affiliate program. It tracks clicks, conversions, and commissions, making managing your program easy. Track affiliate performance via Partnero and adjust commission rates and marketing materials. Analyze data from your affiliate tracking software to identify top-performing affiliates and campaigns. 

    This can help improve conversions and ROI. Work with your partners to test and optimize landing pages. Improve conversions and ensure they align with the affiliate's marketing message.

    Your SaaS affiliate program is an ever-evolving strategy that needs regular monitoring, evaluation, and updates to ensure continued success. 

    Infographic explaining 6 steps to launch a SaaS affiliate program

Launch a profitable SaaS affiliate program today with Partnero

Are you convinced yet? As a SaaS company, you know that getting new customers is vital to the growth of your business. However, setting up, running, and managing a SaaS affiliate program requires careful planning and execution. This guide provides six crucial reasons and steps to launch and nurture a profitable SaaS affiliate program.

Create a successful program that generates sales and helps you build partnerships that make sense. Remember to choose the right affiliates. Provide them with regular communication and support. Monitor your performance data to optimize your program for success.

Leverage SaaS affiliate programs with Partnero. Sign up for Partnero today.

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