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How To Set Up an Affiliate Program? 2024 SaaS Edition

Setting up an affiliate program for your business goes beyond just creating a landing page - it's about getting the foundational pieces right from the start.

That's why this guide is more than just a simple "how-to."

It is a strategic blueprint detailing each foundational step, ensuring that you build a strong and sustainable program.

We'll explore every aspect crucial to setting up an affiliate marketing program for SaaS companies, from defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) to crafting a recruitment strategy that aligns with your business objectives. We'll cover how to design a commission structure that motivates affiliates, automate the onboarding process and much more.

Most importantly, we’ll show you how to leverage the right technology to bring everything together and drive real revenue.

Following this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools to set up an affiliate program that sets the stage for rapid partner-driven MRR growth.

Let us master each of these initial steps together!

#1 Define your ICP properly if you haven’t done it before

Launching a successful affiliate program starts with clearly understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). If your business already has a well-defined ICP as part of your overall SaaS marketing plan, leverage this to identify affiliate marketers who can genuinely engage with your target audience. If you haven't defined your ICP or need to refine it, now is the time to do so.

A well-crafted ICP is essential for aligning your affiliate recruitment strategies with your target audience. This alignment ensures that your affiliates can effectively reach and influence potential customers, enhancing your marketing efforts and significantly improving conversion rates for your online business.

Some actionable steps to define your ICP include:

  • Analyze existing customer data: Review your current customer base to understand their demographics (age, gender, location), firmographics (industry, company size), and behaviors (buying patterns, product usage, feedback).
  • Collaborate with sales and support teams: Your sales team can offer insights into the traits of your most successful customers, while your support team can highlight common issues and questions that customers face, providing a clearer picture of their needs.
  • Segment your audience: Group your customers into segments based on shared characteristics and behaviors. Prioritize these segments by their profitability and alignment with your product.
  • Develop detailed customer personas: Create detailed personas for each segment, incorporating demographic and firmographic details, pain points, and decision-making processes. Base these personas on real customer data to ensure accuracy.

Joran Hofman, founder of Reditus, a leading SaaS affiliate management software, underscores the importance of this step:

"It's crucial to have your ideal customer profile defined so you can identify who has access to them in bulk."

#2 Finalize your revenue-sharing (commission) model

Setting up a tiered commission structure with Reditus.

Picking the right revenue-sharing model is crucial for the success of your affiliate program. The commission structure directly influences how motivated each affiliate marketer will be to promote your product. Lucrative commissions attract top affiliates and encourage them to perform consistently, driving more sales and increasing your revenue. The right model ensures a fair and attractive compensation system, aligning the interests of your affiliates with your business goals.

Some actionable steps to craft an attractive commission structure include:

  • Try longer cookie duration: Consider extending cookie durations beyond 30 days, such as 60 or 90 days. Longer durations can entice affiliates by increasing their chances of earning commissions, especially for products with longer sales cycles.
  • Explore examples: Research various affiliate revenue model examples being used in the industry to find the best fit for your business. You can consider the following common models:
    • Pay-per-sale (PPS): Affiliates earn a commission only when their referrals result in sales. This model is effective if you have a clear and trackable sales funnel.
    • Pay-per-click (PPC): Affiliates are compensated based on the number of clicks generated, regardless of conversions. This is ideal for increasing traffic and brand awareness.
    • Pay-per-lead (PPL): Affiliates earn commissions for generating leads, such as sign-ups for free trials. This model is beneficial for high-ticket items or products requiring more customer education.
    • Hybrid models: Combine various models to suit different products or marketing goals, such as combining PPS for direct sales with PPL for trial sign-ups.
  • Research competitor offerings: Investigate your competitors' offerings to ensure your commission rates are competitive. Understanding the market standards can help you offer a slightly better deal to attract high-quality affiliates.
  • Offer tiered commissions: Implement a tiered commission structure where partners earn higher rates as they achieve more affiliate sales. This helps motivate and encourage them to perform well and continue promoting your SaaS product. With Reditus, you can easily create and manage your commission structures, ensuring your program remains attractive and fair for all participants.
  • Provide exclusive incentives for top performers: Offer exclusive bonuses or higher commission rates to top-performing affiliates to foster loyalty and drive continued promotion. Provide early access to new features, special bonuses for milestones, personalized support, and exclusive marketing materials.

#3 Pick a SaaS-focused affiliate management software

Screenshot from Reditus website.

Screenshot from Reditus website.

Choosing the right software platform to execute your affiliate marketing strategy is a no-brainer, considering the complexity of running a successful program. Having one allows you to focus on strategic growth rather than administrative tasks. In this regard, Reditus is one of the top SaaS affiliate platforms to consider when setting up your own affiliate program. It streamlines the entire lifecycle from the initial launch to ongoing management and optimization.

Here is what makes Reditus a clear winner for operating any SaaS affiliate program:

  • No revenue, no fee: Reditus offers a no-risk approach by allowing you to use the affiliate platform at zero cost until you cross $1,000 in partner-driven MRR. This ensures you can test and grow your affiliate program without upfront costs.
  • Specialized for B2B SaaS: Reditus is exclusively crafted for B2B SaaS companies, ensuring every feature is tailored to meet your business's specific needs. This specialization means you get tools and features designed to enhance your SaaS affiliate marketing efforts.
  • Quick and easy setup: With Reditus, you can launch your affiliate program quickly. For example, you can go live with a custom landing page and partner sign-up page in under 30 minutes, allowing you to start recruiting affiliates immediately.
  • Added value beyond the basics: Reditus offers more than an affiliate program application form builder. Our thriving marketplace showcases your program to a large affiliate network eager to recommend software like yours to their audience.
  • Seamless integrations: Integrates with tools like Stripe, Paddle, and Calendly, simplifying subscription management and referral tracking.
  • Comprehensive support: Offers extensive support through a help center with detailed documentation, real-time chat support, and email assistance. This ensures you can access the help you need whenever issues arise, facilitating smooth and continuous operation.
  • Easy migration: If you are considering switching from another platform, Reditus offers a smooth migration service. We focus on transferring your affiliates and their referrals without duplicating commissions.

Users of affiliate marketing software highly value each of these parameters, and Reditus excels at each. By leveraging Reditus, you can efficiently make setting up an affiliate marketing program a breeze.

#4 Publish your affiliate program and sign-up page

Screenshot from affiliate program landing page of Expandi, a LinkedIn automation tool provider that uses Reditus.

Screenshot from affiliate program landing page of Expandi, a LinkedIn automation tool provider that uses Reditus.

Setting up an optimized affiliate program page and sign-up page is essential for attracting and recruiting potential affiliates. These pages serve as the main touchpoints where interested individuals can learn about your program and decide to join. A well-crafted affiliate program page provides clear and compelling information, making it easy for potential affiliates to understand the benefits and take action.

Here are some actionable steps to create an effective affiliate program and sign-up page:

  • Provide clear and concise information: Clearly explain the benefits of joining your program, the commission structure, and how affiliates can earn money. Use straightforward language to ensure potential affiliates understand what you offer and what you expect from them.
  • Use compelling call to action (CTA) buttons: Use strong CTAs to guide visitors toward signing up for your program. Phrases like “Join Now” or “Become an Affiliate” should be prominently displayed, encouraging immediate action.
  • Design page for user-friendliness: Ensure both pages are easy to navigate with a clean, professional design. Use bullet points, headings, and visuals to break up text and keep the pages engaging. A well-organized layout helps visitors find the information they need quickly.
  • Add a link to your website footer: Ensure that a link to your affiliate program page is easily accessible from your main website. Adding it to the footer ensures visibility on every page, increasing the chances of attracting more affiliates.
  • Showcase partner testimonials and success stories: Include testimonials or case studies from current affiliates to build trust and showcase your program's success. Real-world examples can be very persuasive for potential affiliates.

Pro tip: If you use Reditus, you can go live with your program landing page and sign-up page in a matter of minutes.

Setting up affiliate link and conversion tracking is crucial for monitoring your affiliate program's performance. Proper tracking ensures affiliates are fairly compensated, keeping them motivated and maintaining their trust. It identifies top performers, allowing you to optimize the program. Additionally, detailed tracking data helps refine your affiliate marketing strategy.

Here are some actionable steps to configure affiliate link and conversion tracking properly:

  • Assign unique links to affiliates: Generate unique affiliate links for each partner to attribute traffic and conversions accurately. This step eliminates guesswork and ensures precise tracking of each affiliate’s performance.
  • Implement a tracking script: Use a tracking script on your website to monitor clicks and conversions. This script places a cookie on the visitor’s device when they click an affiliate link, allowing you to track their actions.
  • Set cookie duration: Configure the duration of the tracking cookie to match your program’s needs. This setting controls how long an affiliate is credited for a referral after the initial click.
  • Integrate with payment platforms: Ensure your tracking system integrates with commonly used SaaS payment platforms like Stripe or Paddle. This integration links visitor activity to their purchases, enabling accurate commission payouts.

Pro tip: Implementing a tracking script using Reditus is straightforward yet powerful. Reditus offers robust tracking capabilities, among other essential affiliate marketing tools, ensuring accurate attribution and efficient management of your affiliate program. Just add a small piece of code to your website, and it starts collecting valuable data. This ensures accurate attribution and efficient management of your affiliate program. Check out our video tutorial for a step-by-step guide on setting up the tracking script.

#6 Develop an automated affiliate onboarding flow

Screenshot from Reditus- HubSpot integration configuration interface.

Screenshot from Reditus- HubSpot integration configuration interface.

Creating an automated affiliate onboarding flow ensures a smooth and efficient start for new affiliates. This process helps affiliates understand your program, set up their accounts, and promote your product quickly.

Here are some actionable steps to create an effective affiliate onboarding flow:

  • Provide easy access to affiliate links: Ensure affiliates have easy access to their unique links and the ability to create custom links for specific campaigns.
  • Set up their dashboard: Provide affiliates with a personalized dashboard where they can monitor their performance, earnings, and other key metrics.
  • Collect payout information: Prompt affiliates to submit their preferred payment method during onboarding to streamline due commission payments.
  • Ensure agreement to terms and conditions: Ensure affiliates review and agree to your program's terms and conditions, establishing clear expectations and legal protections.
  • Automate email communication: Set up automated emails to guide new affiliates through onboarding and provide essential information and support.
  • Share marketing and support materials: Offer access to training videos, boilerplate marketing copy, banners, logos, guides, and FAQs to help affiliates understand your product and promote it easily.

Pro tip: Using Reditus can simplify the development of an automated onboarding flow. Reditus allows you to configure an automated process that generates unique links, sets up dashboards, collects payout information, and ensures agreed-upon terms and conditions. Additionally, Reditus integrates with platforms like HubSpot and Slack, enabling you to sync affiliate application data and nurture them through email sequences, providing essential training materials and support.

For a more comprehensive guide on how to automate affiliate marketing, check out the linked article.

#7 Set up the payout workflow

A secure and timely payout process boosts trust and motivation among affiliates. Efficient payouts build confidence, reduce administrative burdens, and mitigate fraud. Automating payouts saves time and ensures accurate, on-time payments, while fraud detection mechanisms protect against illegitimate activities.

Here are some actionable steps to create a secure and efficient payout process:

  • Set minimum payment thresholds: To reduce administrative burden and processing fees, set a payout threshold (e.g., $100).
  • Automate payments: Use services like Stripe for automatic payments, but always double-check transactions.
  • Spot self-referrals: Use algorithms to cross-reference IP addresses and match affiliate domains with referrals.
  • Monitor brand-named ads: Implement tools to flag paid ads featuring your brand name.
  • Guard against credit card fraud: Activate alerts for high refund rates or multiple sign-ups from a single IP address.

Pro tip: Using a platform like Reditus can greatly simplify the payout workflow. Reditus allows you to automate the 'who,' 'when,' and 'how much' of payouts, reducing your time on this task. Additionally, Reditus integrates with payment platforms like Stripe to streamline transactions and incorporates advanced fraud detection algorithms to ensure legitimate payouts.

#8 Start recruiting affiliates to kick things off

Screenshot from the Reditus Marketplace.

Screenshot from the Reditus Marketplace

Recruiting top affiliates is key for a successful affiliate marketing program. High-quality affiliates can boost your product's market presence by connecting with the right audience, expanding your reach, lending credibility through their endorsement, and driving substantial sales that significantly contribute to your revenue.

Here are some key channels to recruit high-quality affiliates:

  • Tap into your existing user base: Begin by reaching out to current customers who already use and love your product. These users can be some of the most effective affiliates because they have firsthand experience and genuine enthusiasm. Encourage them to join your program by offering incentives such as exclusive commissions or early access to new features.
  • Leverage your professional network: Utilize your connections with consultants, agencies, and business partners. These professionals are already familiar with your product and its benefits, making them ideal candidates for promoting your SaaS. Personalize your outreach to highlight how partnering can be mutually beneficial and offer tailored support to help them succeed.
  • List on affiliate marketplaces: Post your affiliate program on well-known affiliate networks and marketplaces. These platforms expose your program to a broader audience of potential affiliates who are actively looking for new products to promote. This can significantly increase your reach and the number of quality affiliates in your program. Ensure your listing is clear and compelling and highlights the benefits of your program to stand out in these marketplaces.
  • Analyze competitor backlinks: Use SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to identify websites and influencers that link to your competitors. These sources are already promoting similar products, so they are likely to be interested in your affiliate program as well. Reach out to the publisher of such an affiliate site with a personalized proposition that offers better terms or unique advantages to entice them to switch their focus to your product.

You can check out our full guide to finding and recruiting affiliates for more detailed strategies.

In addition, explore valuable insights in our LinkedIn post on recruiting and motivating B2B SaaS affiliates, which compiles advice from 17 industry experts.

As one expert puts it,

"When recruiting affiliate partners for your program, it’s about quality, not quantity. Focus on building long-term, sustainable relationships rather than short-term wins." - Nancy Mai Harnett, HubSpot

Pro tip: List your program on the Reditus Marketplace to attract top affiliates on autopilot. Reditus offers one of the top SaaS-focused marketplaces, drawing applications from thousands of highly motivated affiliates. The platform simplifies receiving joining requests, onboarding, and performance monitoring of all partners. With over 6,000+ SaaS-focused affiliates, streamlined recruitment processes, and active recruitment support, Reditus helps you efficiently connect with and manage potential affiliates, accelerating your MRR growth.

#9 Implement program performance monitoring

Example of an affiliate program performance dashboard powered by Reditus.

Example of an affiliate program performance dashboard powered by Reditus.

A robust performance monitoring system is valuable for managing and optimizing your program. Consolidating data in one place allows you to visualize key metrics and draw actionable insights.

Here are some actionable steps to set up effective program performance monitoring:

  • Identify key metrics to track: Monitor clicks, sign-ups, conversion rates, revenue, and other crucial metrics to gain insights into affiliate performance.
  • Use a consolidated dashboard: Implement a centralized dashboard to view all data in one place, simplifying the tracking and analysis process.
  • Give access to stakeholders: Ensure all relevant stakeholders can access the program's performance data to enable collaborative decision-making and transparency.

Pro tip: Use Reditus for comprehensive affiliate performance monitoring. Reditus offers an intuitive dashboard designed specifically for B2B SaaS affiliate programs, providing all key metrics in one place. This platform simplifies tracking and helps understand trends, optimize strategies, and ensure your program's success.

#10 Have a review and optimization plan in place

To complement your performance monitoring, establish a robust review and optimization plan to ensure continuous improvement of your affiliate program. Regular reviews help identify trends and patterns, enabling you to make informed decisions about necessary changes.

Here are some actionable steps to set up a review and optimization plan:

  • Schedule periodic reviews: Set monthly, quarterly, and annual review schedules to evaluate program performance consistently.
  • Evaluate affiliate performance: Assess major affiliate marketing campaigns from partners to determine what is working and what needs adjustment.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Adjust commission rates, provide additional support to top-performing affiliates, and refine marketing materials based on review findings.
  • Implement affiliate feedback: Use feedback from affiliates to make changes that enhance their experience and boost their performance.

Closing remarks: Initiate your affiliate program right to scale faster

We hope this guide has provided valuable insights on how to set up an affiliate marketing program smarter and faster.

By following these steps, you can create a solid foundation that significantly increases your chances of success and scalability.

Utilizing a feature-packed, SaaS-focused affiliate management software like Reditus makes this process seamless and efficient.

Reditus is free to start, so why wait? Your affiliate program will be up and running in just a few minutes.

Request a personalized demo today!

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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