Source: Semrush affiliate program
Here are some best practices to help you set your affiliate program up for success:
Determine affiliate marketing goals and KPIs
Set key performance indicators (KPIs) with tangible goals and metrics to measure your success. KPIs can help you shape your affiliate marketing activities, stay on top of your goals, and optimize your campaigns.
Here are a few examples of KPIs you can measure:
- Conversion rate. The percentage of affiliate link clicks resulting in a purchase. Track this metric to compare an individual affiliate’s performance and identify your top performers. The metric is also helpful if you want to compare the effectiveness of affiliate marketing to other channels.
- The number of sales per affiliate. This metric will reveal your top affiliates and rising stars that may require an individual approach to start shining.
- Affiliate revenue per quarter/year. How much money affiliate marketing earns during a specific period. Sometimes, stuck with dozens of other superfluous metrics, companies overlook this direct indicator of success.
- Return on investment (ROI). You can start tracking ROI only after recouping the initial expenses attributed to your program (commissions, paid promotion, and affiliate tracking software).
- The percentage of active affiliates. Find out how many of your registered partners drive leads and sales for your business.
- The number of dormant affiliates. The number of affiliates that aren't actively driving people to your website. This metric will help you accurately segment your publishers and use different tactics for each segment accordingly.
- LTV or CLV (Customer lifetime value). How much revenue a typical customer will bring in during their relationship with your company. Track the LTV of the customers that come from your affiliates to measure the effectiveness of the program.
Choose an affiliate tracking software
Affiliate tracking platforms let you launch, manage, and optimize your own affiliate or referral programs. Most tracking tools are feature-rich and allow fine-tuning affiliate marketing campaigns for any business needs. Due to comprehensive dashboards and real-time statistics, advertisers can easily calculate commissions, track conversions, and store affiliate-related data under one hood.
Things to consider:
- Pricing. Evaluate different tools to find the best feature-price ratio. Since most affiliate tracking tools offer various pricing plans, you can easily pick up the one that fits your budget.
- Integrations. If you have no technical skills and want the software to run out of the box, pay attention to the tools that have quick ready-made integrations with your platform.
- Features. Create a list of the must-have features you need and ensure the tool you are eyeing provides them. For a SaaS product, you may need software like Tapfiliate to set recurring or lifetime commissions and get in-depth reports on each affiliate segment.
- Сustomer support and onboarding. Choose a tool that offers top-notch support, smooth onboarding, and product training so you can get your program up and running quickly.
- Reputation. Use comparison or review sites like TrustPilot and G2 to see what others are saying about their experience with the tool to help inform your decision.
Create your payment structure
Source: The Canva affiliate starting guide
Before planning a commission structure, examine other affiliate programs in your SaaS niche. This way, you can set a commission attractive to promoters while still sustainable for your company.
In addition, plan your commissions with room for extra incentives. If you offer the maximum commission at the start, you lose the chance to offer your best performers bonuses in the future.
There are three main commission types you can choose from:
- One-time commissions: A one-time payment for every sale driven by your affiliate. While popular, this may not be the best solution for the SaaS and subscription businesses. For example, you offer a subscription that costs $20/month. It would generate $240 annual recurring revenue (ARR). In contrast, a 15% one-time commission for the first payment will bring your affiliate only $3.
- Lifetime recurring commissions are preferable for SaaS affiliates. Instead of earning commissions only for the first purchase made by referred clients, they get the commission for every subsequent payment. So be it a monthly or annual payment, they get a commission whenever their lead pays.
- Limited recurring commissions specify a frequency cap - to limit the number of conversions attributed to a specific client, or a time cap - to limit the number of days (weeks, months) during which an affiliate is eligible for a commission on a customer’s purchases.
Promote your affiliate program and recruit top-notch partners
Once the program is ready, it’s time to let the world know about it:
- Your company website is a great place to advertise your affiliate program. First, make sure you’ve created an informative landing page where you describe your program rules and commission amount. Detailed information will help you build trust and avoid any possible misunderstandings from the affiliates’ side. Then, add the link to your site footer, and promote the program with banners and pop-ups.
Source: Planoly Affiliate Program
- Email marketing is indispensable for reaching out to your existing customers. Add information about your affiliate program to weekly or monthly newsletters, follow-ups, or emails with special offers to turn your loyal clients into brand ambassadors. You can also place the information about your program in your email signature.
- Paid advertising works perfectly for SaaS affiliate programs when you have a budget and know how to do it right.
- Your official social media pages. Feature your program in the company information section and schedule dedicated posts to inform them about commissions and bonuses you offer for promotion.
- Reach out to bloggers and industry experts. Research your niche to find the most relevant influencers who will put your product in front of your target audience.
Design marketing assets
Provide your affiliates with helpful insights and create marketing materials for them:
- Social media posts
- Text links
Also share your branding kit, including the logo, fonts, and any company-related imagery. Share your awards (if any) and reviews to let your partners use them in their promotions.
Educate your affiliates
SaaS solutions can be complicated to promote as they are not physical products and constantly evolve. That’s why it’s your job to provide your affiliates with necessary educational materials like guides, video tutorials, etc.
You should also inform them about product updates or major changes to how the software works. This way, they will share the most precise and up-to-date information, avoiding misleading your potential customers.
And, of course, stay in touch with your partners, ready to answer their questions and provide any additional information.