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How to Build an Effective SaaS Affiliate Program in 2024


Have you been thinking about setting up a referral or affiliate program for your Saas company but haven't gotten around to it?

An affiliate program can be a great way to get new leads and customers for your business, but only if it's done right.

Today, we'll walk you through everything you need to start your program on the right track. We'll talk about finding the right affiliates, what kind of incentives to offer them, and how to track their performance.

Let's dive in.

What Is a SaaS Affiliate Program?

In its most basic form, a SaaS affiliate program is a marketing arrangement where an individual promotes your software in exchange for a commission on every sale.

an illustration explaining the affiliate marketing model

The affiliate signs up for your program and agrees to promote your software to their audience. 

When someone clicks on their affiliate link and signs up, the affiliate gets a commission.

It's a performance-based marketing arrangement where everyone wins:

  • The affiliate gets paid for their efforts.
  • You get new customers without having to spend any money on advertising.

Besides, customers who come in through an affiliate are usually of higher quality than those from other channels because they've been pre-sold by someone they trust.

Of course, some challenges come with running a SaaS affiliate program. We'll cover some of them a bit later, but first, let's answer a crucial question.

What Are the Benefits of Running a SaaS Affiliate Program?

There are several reasons why you might want to launch a SaaS affiliate program. Here are a few of the most common benefits:

  • Reduce your CPA (Customer Acquisition Cost): Pay only when you get results and grow your business without breaking the bank.
  • Increased reach: Affiliates can help you reach new audiences that you might not have access to otherwise.
  • Improved brand reputation: As your affiliates promote your software, more people will become aware of your brand. If you have a good SaaS product, this can lead to an improved reputation and social proof down the road.
  • Less competition: No matter your industry, there are already established companies with substantial marketing budgets. It can be hard to compete with them on paid advertising channels. But with an affiliate program, you can level the playing field by tapping into their affiliate network.

What Is the Difference Between Referral and SaaS Affiliate Programs?

The terms "affiliate program" and "referral program" are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two.

The primary difference lies in their role in the customer's journey.

A referral program is usually used to incentivize existing customers to spread the word about your product to their friends and family.

On the other hand, an affiliate program focuses on driving sales from new customers.

The line between the two can sometimes be blurred. 

Still, in general, a referral program is more focused on building brand awareness and reputation. In contrast, an affiliate program is more focused on generating new leads and customers.

Comparison between affiliate marketing and referral marketing

Other critical differences include:

  • Formality: A referral program can be as simple as giving your customers a discount code to share with their friends. On the other hand, an affiliate program usually requires a more formal agreement between you and the affiliate.
  • Compensation: In a referral program, customers are typically given a discount or incentive (e.g., free shipping) for referring new customers. In an affiliate program, affiliates are typically given a commission for every new customer.
  • Structure: A referral program is usually informal and unstructured. An affiliate program is usually more structured, with specific terms and conditions that you and the affiliate agree to.

How Do I Start a SaaS Affiliate Marketing Program?

Now that we've answered some of the basics, let's move on to the practical side of things and go over how you can launch your own SaaS affiliate marketing program.

Here are the steps you'll need to take:

1. Choose The Right Affiliate Management Solution

If you look for "affiliate software" in Capterra, one of the largest software review networks, you'll notice there are 173 solutions available.

With so many options, how can you choose the right one for your business?

The answer lies in understanding your needs and requirements. Do you need an all-in-one solution that covers every aspect of affiliate marketing? Or are you looking for something more focused, like an affiliate link tracking tool?

Your answer will help you narrow down the options and make it easier to find the right software for your business.

Also, ensure your chosen solution specializes in SaaS affiliate marketing. Some platforms are better suited for physical products, while others don't have the necessary features for software companies.

With Reditus, for example, you get access to powerful tools like custom affiliate link creation, recurring commission payout, and fraud detection.

You also get access to affiliate management functionalities to help you stay organized and keep track of your referrals.

How to manage referrals inside Reditus (screenshot)

All these features will come in handy when launching and managing your SaaS affiliate marketing program.

2. Tap Into Affiliate Marketplaces

Affiliate marketplaces are online platforms that connect SaaS affiliate programs to a network of potential affiliates.

These marketplaces make it easier for affiliates to find and join programs that match their interests.

And they also make it easier for businesses to find high-quality affiliates.

Reditus' marketplace, for example, helps you list your affiliate program and connect with high-quality affiliates who are interested in promoting your SaaS product.

A screeenshot of Reditus affiliate program marketplace

It's a great way to get the traction you need to launch and grow your SaaS affiliate marketing program.

3. Develop an Attractive Commission Structure

Developing an attractive affiliate commission structure is key to recruiting top affiliates and getting them to promote your product.

The commission you offer will depend on various factors, such as the price of your product and the average order value.

For example, if you're selling a $10/month subscription, you might offer a 50% commission for each new sign-up.

Your affiliates would earn $5 for every new customer they bring in.

You can also offer a tiered commission structure, where affiliates earn more as they bring in more customers.

This helps motivate and encourage your affiliates to perform well and continue promoting your SaaS product.

With Reditus, you can easily create and manage your commission structures.

How to manage commission tiers inside Reditus (screenshot)

You can also automate the process of calculating and paying commissions, so you can focus on other aspects of your business, like developing new features and marketing your product.

4. Iterate, Iterate, and Iterate

Your SaaS affiliate marketing program is not a set-and-forget solution.

You need to continuously monitor and optimize your program to ensure it's performing well.

This means constantly testing and experimenting with different commission structures, affiliate types, and marketing materials.

For example, you might want to test different commission structures to see which one works best for your business.

You might also want to experiment with different types of affiliates, such as influencers or bloggers.

And you might want to try different marketing strategies, like creating exclusive deals or running promotional campaigns.

The key is to constantly iterate and improve your SaaS affiliate marketing program.

That's why it's crucial to choose an affiliate management solution with robust analytics and tracking features.

Reditus, for example, provides detailed reports and insights to help you track your program's performance.

Reditus analytics in action (screenshot)

Reditus' analytics in action (screenshot)

You can see how much each affiliate has earned in commissions and their average order value and conversion rate. Besides, you can filter and segment your affiliates to better understand their performance.

Use these reports to identify areas for improvement and make the necessary changes to optimize your program.

Where Can I Find SaaS Affiliates?

Once you've launched your SaaS affiliate marketing program, it's time to promote it to potential affiliates.

The best way to do this is to reach out to influencers, bloggers, and other potential affiliates who might be interested in promoting your product.

You can also promote your program on affiliate marketplaces and directories.

Another great way to promote your program is to run an affiliate recruitment campaign.

With a recruitment campaign, you can reach out to many potential affiliates and invite them to join your program.

Some other ideas include:

  • Hosting a webinar: You can host a webinar to promote your program and answer any questions that potential affiliates might have.
  • Writing guest posts: Find out what blogs and websites your potential affiliates read and write a guest post for them. This is a great way to reach out to potential affiliates and get your program in front of a larger audience.
  • Cold outreach: You can also reach out to potential affiliates via email marketing or social media. This is a great way to connect with potential affiliates who might not be active on affiliate marketplaces or directories.
  • Paid media: You can also use paid media, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, to reach out to potential affiliates.

What Else Goes Into Launching an Effective Affiliate Program?

In addition to promoting your affiliate program, you need to do a few other things to ensure its success.

Here are a few tips:

  • Create landing pages and creatives: Once you've recruited affiliates, you need to provide them with the resources they need to promote your product. This includes creating landing pages and creatives, including banner ads and email templates.
  • Provide training and support: You also need to provide your affiliates with training and support. This way, they can learn about your product and how to promote it effectively.
  • Monitor and optimize your program: As we mentioned earlier, you need to continuously monitor and optimize your affiliate program. Otherwise, it will eventually become stagnant and stop performing well.
  • Oversee payouts and commissions: Finally, you need to oversee payouts and commissions. This includes making sure affiliates are paid on time and accurate commissions.

How Can Software Help You Manage Your Affiliate Partnerships?

With all the hints given, it should be clear that affiliate marketing for SaaS businesses can be highly beneficial if done correctly.

You need to put in the work to recruit high-quality affiliates, provide them with the resources they need to succeed, and monitor your program.

But what if we told you there was a way to make things easier?

With the right software solution, you can automate many of the tasks associated with running an affiliate program.

For example, Reditus can help you manage your affiliates, track your program's performance, and optimize your campaigns.

What is Reditus?

Reditus homepage screenshot

Reditus is an all-in-one affiliate marketing platform that makes it easy to launch and manage your program.

Plus, with Reditus, you can automate many of the tasks associated with running an affiliate partner program.

For example, Reditus can help you:

  • Track your program's performance: Reditus provides you with real-time tracking to see how your program is performing at all times.
  • Manage your affiliate partners: Reditus makes it easy to recruit, manage, and pay your affiliates in one central place.
  • Comply with regulations: Reditus helps you comply with all the relevant laws and regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
  • Train your team: Reditus provides you with the resources you need to quickly train your team and get them up to speed.

To get a more thorough overview of what Reditus can do for your SaaS solution, schedule a free demo today.

Ready to Start an Affiliate Program For Your SaaS Solution?

A SaaS affiliate marketing program can be a great way to grow your business.

By offering commissions, you can incentivize affiliates to promote your product.

And by choosing the right affiliates and marketing strategies, you can ensure that your program is successful.

If you're looking to launch a SaaS affiliate marketing program, Reditus can help.

Reditus is an affiliate management solution that makes it easy to create, track, and manage your program in one central place.

To start, schedule a free demo today, and one of our experts will show you how Reditus can help you grow your business.

Joran Hofman
Meet the author
Joran Hofman
Back in 2020 I was an affiliate for 80+ SaaS tools and I was generating an average of 30k in organic visits each month with my site. Due to the issues I experienced with the current affiliate management software tools, it never resulted in the passive income I was hoping for. Many clunky affiliate management tools lost me probably more than $20,000+ in affiliate revenue. So I decided to build my own software with a high focus on the affiliates, as in the end, they generate more money for SaaS companies.
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