How to set up a profitable SaaS affiliate program?


SaaS affiliate programs involve the process of affiliates linking SaaS products they promote on their websites by highlighting the content or service they offer. When a visitor to their site browses through the content, clicks on the link, and becomes a subscriber or customer of the SaaS business, the affiliate is paid a commission. The time from click to signup can be a set period determined within a tool like Reditus. 

Determining any SaaS affiliate program's success involves comprehending your own goals and benchmarking them against the affiliates' metrics. These tracked metrics should relate to the ones you use for your primary marketing efforts to determine if your SaaS affiliate networks are providing any benefit. 

Some key features to consider when evaluating a potential B2B affiliate program are;

  • The size of your SaaS company
  • Your available time to grow the channel
  • How much you’re willing to invest (commissions & tool prices)
  • Available resources for partners 
  • Finding the right fit - Ideal Partner Profile
  • Your goals

To set up a successful B2B SaaS affiliate program, the following steps will make the process less of a hassle.

Competitor Research

You learn a lot from your competitors. Take time to go through their B2B affiliate programs from to back. See the commissions they offer, monitor their logistics, affiliate onboarding, affiliate requirements, affiliate program T&C, and what affiliate tracking software they use. By analyzing your competition, you have an in-depth view of how other SaaS businesses set up their B2B affiliate programs. The insights will determine the focus areas on your product quality and conversion rate optimization.

Choosing an Affiliate Management Software

Choose a specific B2B affiliate marketing program that allows you to set up the logistics and trackers for your affiliates. The software monitors everything and gives you a detailed breakdown of the sales data, affiliates signed, payments, program performance all in one place.

When choosing an affiliate marketing management software, SaaS B2B providers can choose between three options. 

  1. You can create your own affiliate tracking program, which involves tracking software and an affiliate payment system designed in-house. You will need to handle affiliate marketer research and recruitment plus management of the affiliates.
  2. By choosing an already established affiliate network, you gain access to affiliates and streamlined payment arrangements. The tool will show you all the metrics you need and will force you to tap into your network as they won’t help you to find partners. 
  3. A Partner Management Tool with a Marketplace, which allows you to grow your program outside of your own network (a lot different than 1 & 2). Within the tool, you also have tracking dashboards, contact management, and performance trackers set up.

Sales Tracking and Commissions Structure

Next comes setting up your affiliate program structure. Establish a robust set of guidelines complete with terms and conditions your affiliates are expected to follow. You have everything at stake here, from your brand's future to your reputation. You must ensure every affiliate is doing it the right way. Set the standards and expectations on how you want your B2B SaaS products promoted and what they are allowed to do, and what they cannot. Establish the right marketing message or several messages that your affiliates understand to promote your service better. Here is where you establish the rules of engagement, how affiliates will get paid, and what you will pay for.

Remember to ensure you optimize your website to accelerate conversions and turn visitors into customers. Your affiliate programs won’t make any difference if your site and sales funnels are buggy and prevent visitors from using your site as expected.

Paying your affiliates is based on your sales tracking and the following metrics;

Cost per action (CPA) – this is where you pay an affiliate a commission for every sale you make from their efforts. If you set your commission higher, you are more likely to attract higher quality affiliates, and the more you will potentially pay for sales.

Cost per lead (CPL) – determine what is classified as a successful lead. A lead is can either be a prospect who engages in a phone call with your sales team or someone who signs up for one of your lead magnets? Define this and set a commission for this metric. Since the goal is to make a profit, determine how much a lead is worth to you before setting the commission.

Cost per impression (CPM) – You determine how much your affiliates are paid based on how much traffic they direct to your site, measured by the number of visitors through their link to your site. This metric does not represent sales and is quite hard to monetize; however, if you are confident of your conversion power, it's easier to monetize it.

Recurring commission; paid for a certain time of your referrals going premium. You will get paid for bringing in paid customers and earn commission during the time they are customers. As a partner, you will get a commission percentage against a set timeframe a customer keeps paying. This metric sets apart SaaS affiliate programs from the rest.

Sales can be validated and monitored on the affiliate management software you connect with. They will produce the affiliate links for you and collect the sales data on their dashboard, and from there, you can connect to payment processors to pay your affiliates.

Recruiting Affiliates

SaaS Affiliate providers quickly realize that the minority of their affiliates are responsible for the majority of their sales. These successful recurring affiliates are the ones you want to recruit to your affiliate program. Determine the minimum standards your affiliates must follow; this might include traffic volume from their site, the conversion rate, and content production rate, among others. This will ensure you recruit affiliates that are more likely to bring results.

Pro tip: Set up qualifying questions to get to know more about your affiliates.

But don’t set the standards too high; the best affiliates often work with the best, so unless you can meet their commission rate go for those within your range. If you are a startup, accept affiliates that adhere to your terms and conditions to get your business off the ground.

The best affiliates are hard to recruit and require a different type of sales arrangement to be convinced to join your program. It is advised to start small then go for the more prominent affiliates once your program is fully implemented and generating business. You can begin with outreach to your existing customer base or partner up with other services that provide services overlapping with your own. Try to establish a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Managing Affiliates

Regularly remind your affiliates to promote your SaaS product. You can do this through an automated email campaign or periodical newsletters. Use these campaigns to advertise new features, business news, upcoming events, and helpful content about your service and company, plus other ideas that emerge which promote your service.

Track your analytics and the performance of the program. See the affiliates bringing in more revenue, and you can offer performance bonuses to motivate them to promote your brand. Keep track of every other metric and analyze whether your B2B SaaS affiliate marketing program is profitable.

Setup multiple tiers within Reditus to stimulate partners to bring in more clients, against a higher commission.

When partnering up and accepting affiliates

Be selective

Be selective of the affiliates you add to your program. Choose companies that provide a mutual benefit aligned with your growth goals. They should be aligned with your brand values and be in a market that complements your own sales funnel.

Mutual benefit 

Complement, not compete. They should bring to the table a significant customer base related to yours but not so much as to become a competition. Affiliate with a company that complements your own SaaS product and exists at the same growth level as your own. Not too far above or below.

Manage the program

Have someone in charge of the whole program. It’s hard to handle your growth solutions while simultaneously juggling partner programs. If you are relatively new to this, appoint someone who knows how they work instead of delegating the whole project to your internal team. 

Have one primary point of contact for all partnership programs and factor out all the unnecessary communication to find the solutions that take advantage of every opportunity.

Watch the numbers

Measure the partnership attribution and benchmark it against your projections. Start with the basic things like tracking URLs and visitors in landing pages and websites and move on to investing in affiliate partner program tracking software. Establish solutions to manage referrals and partner marketing efforts and provide measurable metrics that reflect your partnership's performance.

About Reditus

Reditus is a partner management tool that allows SaaS business owners to grow their brand by setting up a partner and referral program in one. They can recruit and manage existing and new partners and affiliates from one point without breaking their budgets.

The Partner management tools come with the necessary scripts to track and monitor the critical metrics while giving SaaS providers access to a Marketplace where they can be found be new potential partners.

The platform gives affiliate marketers and B2B SaaS providers exceptional security with robust encryption and SEO-friendly links to promote their brands. As a client of Reditus, you have full control over your programs on the dashboard. This control extends to all the payment methods and the ease of managing your affiliate program.

Reditus gives partners an opportunity to enrich their B2B SaaS affiliate programs while increasing their conversion rates and lifetime value (LTV) and lowering customer acquisition costs (CAC).

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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