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  • Writer's pictureYogesh Jain

A Founder's Guide to SaaS Affiliate Marketing

Updated: Mar 25


Affiliate marketing this, affiliate marketing that. No matter where you go, you will not hear these words. And for good reason, too. Affiliate marketing is not just the new fad. It is fast becoming one of the best ways to generate leads while doing very little work. Affiliate marketing can be confusing for a beginner. And that is why we have created a Founders Guide to SaaS Affiliate Marketing. With this, you will understand what affiliate marketing is, how it benefits your SaaS business, how to find partners, and how to track your metrics.


So, here is your Founders Guide to SaaS Affiliate Marketing.



What is SaaS affiliate marketing?





Affiliate marketing is a type of referral partnership system. In this system, the company gives its affiliate partners a commission when they make a sale. Affiliate marketing works best to build community and make sales. Plus, you do not have to get directly involved in the process. All SaaS businesses have an affiliate program to boost their sales. 


Customers prefer to buy a product after they have read product reviews. And this extends to SaaS products. People will turn to online reviews, influencers, and experts before they make a purchase. Therefore, most customers are buying products solely based on what other people are saying. Here are some stats to put things in perspective for you:


  1. 9/10 of customers read reviews before they make a purchase (x).

  2. 79% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (x).

  3. About 65% of affiliate partners generate traffic by blogging (x).

  4. 40% of US businesses get a majority of their customers through affiliate programs (x).


Why should you choose affiliate marketing for your SaaS business?


Content marketing plays a big part in SaaS sales


SaaS products are not the easiest to use. There are a lot of tools and features that one needs to know about before they use it. So customers try to understand how a product works before they buy it. Therefore, they are looking for videos, how-to blogs, and educational content. And this is where your Affiliate partner comes in. They create videos and posts explaining the product, tips, and tricks. This is your content marketing. Affiliate partners will educate their audiences, which makes them inclined to buy a product.



Helps reach a set audience


Affiliate marketers have niche audiences, in most cases. This means that they are targeting specific people. So when you get an affiliate marketer, you also get their niche audiences. These people are someone who has experience in the industries or are hobbyists. Affiliate marketers know their products and they know their audiences. Therefore, you do not have to put in extra work to reach these demographics. Additionally, affiliate marketers have built trust with their communities. And now they are looking for ways to monetize this. Which means you have a higher chance of making a sale to their audiences.



Increases brand awareness in communities


Affiliate marketers have a niche audience in niche industries. So when an affiliate marketer markets your products, they do so through their social media, blogs, and other platforms. This means that your logo and brand name are on platforms where many people can see them. This results in a lower marketing budget and higher brand awareness. Additionally, people not in your primary demographic can stumble onto your brand when they are going through an affiliate's marketers’ blogs/social media.



It lowers your CAC


Since you are paying your affiliate marketer for every product sold, you do not have to worry about marketing. Since you are not directly marketing to the affiliate marketer's audiences. Therefore, you are driving your CAC (customer acquisition cost) down. Additionally, you are saving a portion of your marketing budget. Hence, you only incur an expense (commissions) when a sale has been made. As opposed to spending money on ads before you get a customer.



It is an easily scalable solution


One of the biggest problems SaaS businesses face is scalability. Fortunately, SaaS affiliate marketing is scalable, so it adjusts to the needs of your SaaS business. If you want to expand your business, you simply need to partner with more affiliate marketers. Therefore, you are removing the hiring of additional salespersons. That keeps the cost of the expansion down. All the while, you increase your revenue numbers. Read More: The Ultimate Guide to SaaS Affiliate Marketing or Publishers



Which type of Affiliate Program should you choose?


The ‌affiliate program you choose will depend on several factors. A few of them are budget, audiences, and your objective. Additionally, you can have more than one type of affiliate program for your SaaS business. Here are a few types of SaaS affiliate marketing programs for your business.


Traditional affiliates


This type of affiliate program is very popular in retail marketing. And the most well-known type of affiliate marketing. 



Commerce content


In this type, a brand and media company strategically partner. The brand provides its product and a commission to the media. And the media produces editorial articles on the products and the brand. Through the editorial content, the brand archives higher brand awareness among the media’s audiences. Additionally, their sales numbers boost due to the influence of the media company. 



Communities and industry groups


Communities and industry groups include social influences, subject matter experts, and thought leaders, among a few. You can find these people on Reddit, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You can think of these communities as affiliate marketing communities. Here, people use their networking to educate others about products. These communities run on good faith and a competitive streak.



Educators


Educators in affiliate marketing provide educational and informative content. Such content is crucial as how-tos, tips, and tricks, courses, tutorials, etc. Since SaaS products are technical and many features need tutorials. Additionally, this is a great way to introduce new features to your audience.



Brand-to-brand strategic alliance



The companies that have used your SaaS products can advocate for your business. For example, if you have CRM software, the companies that use your product can advocate for it to other companies. It is a strategic partnership between brands that can help both companies.



Native integrations


A SaaS as a standalone is rarely used. More often than not, companies use several SaaS solutions for their teams. Such SaaS solutions need integration to work cohesively. Therefore, vendors will build an all-around solution for companies. These are called native interactions.  Read More: 10 Books on SaaS Marketing that Are a Must-Read



Here are some platforms you can use for your SaaS affiliate marketing:



Affiliate recruitment agencies


These organizations have a roster of affiliate partners and what they specialize in. You can contact an affiliate recruitment agency to recruit affiliate marketers for your SaaS company. Additionally, affiliate recruitment agencies connect with influencers, podcasts, bloggers, etc. Plus, with your specifications, they can provide you with the best candidate. A few examples are OAK Digital, Hamster Garage, PartnerCentric, and DaisyCon.



Freelance marketplaces


You can easily put up an advertisement for SaaS affiliate marketing on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, FlexJobs, Fiverr, etc. You can shortlist candidates based on their profiles. Additionally, this is a great way to get bulk applications.



Affiliate networks and communities


Affiliate networks and communities are a haven for SaaS businesses looking to get started with SaaS affiliate marketing. They are a network of enthusiasts, hobbyists, and experts who educate and support other members. The organization works on encouragement and a competitive streak. A few examples are Affiliate Marketing Ninjas, STM Forum, and Smart Passive Income Community. Read More: An Ape’s Reasoning for Micro-Influencer Marketing: Why it Works?



How to know if someone is the right affiliate marketer for your business?


They are in your niche


Always select candidates that are in your niche. They should more or less look like your ideal customers. Primarily because they will have a following that matches your target demographic. A slight deviation from your target audience is acceptable since it will allow you to cast a wide net. However, too wide a net will mean then you are not getting enough impact for your budget. Ask them about who they follow, their interests, and plans. This will give you an insight into what your prospects are with them.



They understand your product


Having an affiliate that needs contact handholding not going to work out for you. It is one thing for them to request information on the product. But a different thing for you is to actively educate them on your product. Such affiliates can be difficult to work with in the long term, no matter the size of their following.  You want someone who is sure of themselves and what they are doing. Your affiliate should understand the workings of your product. And actively educate themselves about it. Affiliate marketers who learn about the product themselves make for the best marketers.




Their values align with yours


This partially circles back to their interests and hobbies. Because a look into how they spend their time will give you insight into what values they hold. Your affiliate marketers' values should align with yours. Your brand values are what defines your business, and you should partner with like-minded affiliates. Affiliates who have the same values as you will best represent your brand and product.




What metrics should you track as a founder in SaaS affiliate marketing?


Metrics are the most important part of running a business. Metrics lets you know how your business is performing. Additionally, it gives you data to predict future performances. So here are a few metrics you should track for your SaaS affiliate marketing program:


  1. Return on ad spend (one of the most important metrics)

  2. Conversion rate

  3. Average order value

  4. Active affiliate rat

  5. Affiliate contribution margin

  6. Cost per sale



What are affiliate tracking solutions for SaaS affiliate marketing?


SaaS affiliate marketing also has metrics that you need to track to understand the performance of your strategy. Affiliate tracking involves the managing and tracking of affiliate metrics and activities. If you do not have a tracking solution, then you can get a tracking solution for your SaaS affiliate marketing in the form of software or plugin. It tracks metrics, such as clicks and conversion from affiliates to determine performance. 


Here are 15 tracking solutions for SaaS affiliate marketing:

  1. Everflow.io

  2. CAKE

  3. AffiliateWP

  4. HitPath

  5. Linktrust

  6. Tune

  7. FirstPromoter

  8. Voluum

  9. Airmeet

  10. Hubspot

  11. Leadpages

  12. Unbounce

  13. Tribe

  14. Constant Contact

  15. Anytrack



Mistakes to avoid in SaaS affiliate marketing


Not selecting the right affiliates and not checking in


Step one in any venture is to get the right partners and people. This team of affiliates is going to represent your business and products. So choose wisely. Choosing the wrong person is going to do damage to your brand and how people interact with it. Therefore, make sure that:


  1. Your values and the affiliate's values align

  2. Both of you are on the same page

  3. Both of you clearly understand the objective, compensation, etc.

Additionally, check in with your affiliate regularly. Weekly or monthly. You can discuss performance, expand, and give pep talks. This is a good way to continually make sure you are on top of things. You should chat or have 1:1 calls with your SaaS affiliate marketing partner.



Not recording metrics and not doing it regularly


This is one of the biggest mistakes SaaS businesses make. You should regularly check your metrics, weekly or even daily. Record and compare them against previous data to know where you stand in your marketing strategy.



Not setting objectives and reviewing goals


Every marketing strategy should have an objective and a goal. Without both, you won't know what to do and how. An objective acts as a guideline for your campaigns and your goals provide the structure to create ads. Therefore, set objectives for every one of your SaaS affiliate marketing campaigns. And review your goals throughout the campaigns. With this, you can make quick changes if something is not working out. Read More: Selling Through Content; SaaS Marketing Book

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