Tips for Great SaaS Affiliate Marketing
Marketing for SaaS is different. It’s complex. And it’s challenging.
With SaaS marketing you are promoting something that isn’t physically present for customers to see and touch. Then, it’s constantly changing. And to top it off, SaaS solutions can be difficult for the average person to fully understand right away.
Good news is affiliate marketing can help tackle these challenges, and there’s a few things you can do to help affiliates be successful in SaaS marketing.
Great Affiliates For SaaS
With affiliate marketing it’s not just about what’s being said, it’s also who is saying it.
The success of your affiliate program starts by getting the right people to promote your SaaS. Try finding different types of affiliates, who operate through different mediums and spaces so you can have far-reaching promotion to a variety of audiences.
Here’s three places you can find great SaaS affiliates:
As always, we recommend beginning with your existing customers.
Existing customers are especially great for SaaS. Since most SaaS businesses use a subscription based model, customers tend to be more long-term and committed. Partnering with existing customers conveys a message in itself, representing happy customers who satisfied enough to pay for the service on a regular basis.
As an added bonus, existing customers can also provide first-hand accounts of how they used the software, providing less technical explanations that other business owners can relate to. Affiliates are also a good way to show the practical uses of your software, highlight the benefits with their own experience.
Ask your customer support team to help with finding these existing customers. Ask about the customers that they work with frequently or have developed a positive relationship with. Then, reach out to see if these customers would be interested in joining your program.
Those already writing about you
If someone is already writing about your business, there’s few reasons for why they wouldn’t want to be an affiliate and monetize their work.
Find out where your business is being mentioned with services like Google Alerts and Awario.
But, before you jump in, be sure to do your research. Examine websites, designs and writing styles to determine if it fits with your overall marketing strategy. Will this site give you favorable exposure and help you reach the right customers? Or will it bring in bad leads and potentially devalue your brand?
Influencers & Niche Affiliates
Understanding software can be hard, explaining software can be even harder. Unlike other industries, there’s not a product to show - so affiliates can’t simply post an image and tell customers to buy it.
Instead, SaaS affiliates are tasked with contextualizing the product - explaining what it is, how it works and its benefits. This means not everyone can be a successful SaaS affiliate, it needs to be someone who has a deep understanding and insight for a software’s functionality and features.
Plus, these affiliates already have built-in audiences to market to.
Let’s take Shopify as an example.
Shopify is a software that has become one of the most popular platforms for e-commerce stores. Shopify runs an affiliate program, partnering with content creators, influencers and entrepreneurs such as social media management company Momentum Marketing, and e-commerce training course Smart Marketer. These affiliates are in a field that works with the customers that Shopify would want to market to. And based on their expertise, customers trust the credibility of their recommendation to use Shopify.
That being said, affiliates in a software and tech niche can be an invaluable asset to your affiliate program.
How You Can Help Saas Affiliates
As we said, SaaS marketing is challenging.
Overcome these challenges by proactively working with affiliates. Provide them with the necessary resources and support to effectively (and easily) promote your brand.
Start by giving your affiliates the essentials of your brand.
Gather all branding materials and make a “branding kit” that can be easily accessed. Branding materials include logos, color profiles, typography, slogans, etc.
This will give affiliates a foundation for creating content. Also, it ensures your brand will be displayed consistently in all of your marketing efforts - making it recognizable to audiences.
Image from Spotify
You’ll want to give affiliates some general direction in terms of marketing text.
It’s helpful to provide affiliates with the following:
- You brand’s ad copy
- Product descriptions
- Up-to-date features list
- Pricing lists with what’s included
- Any case studies or examples
It’s also helpful to have a glossary of related terms, especially if the terminology is specific to your software.
Note that this only to help the affiliate, not limit. Provide affiliates the space they need to market their own way, and to best fit their audience. Ultimately, that is the appeal of affiliate marketing - having genuine voices rather than tired, prepackaged ads.
Images are way for your affiliates to give customers a sense of what the product actually is.
Provide affiliates with high-quality images of your software, showcasing the interface and some of the best features. If you’re software changes frequently, try to give the most generic version possible or keep close contact with affiliates for updated images.
Example from Stripe
Additionally, find general images that will convey your brand’s persona and give a sense of the company culture. But, just make sure to avoid the cheesy stock photo trap.
Example from Google
Since affiliates will be marketing your brand in different ways, through different channels and to different audiences, it’s important to have some variety in your image collection.
If it’s a long blog post reviewing the software, screenshots of the interface would be great. But, if your affiliate markets via social media, screenshots of the software probably won’t be that appealing or useful. Instead, try using an image that is reflective of your brand, possibly with a graphic that conveys how this will benefit customers.
Another way to help affiliates is to be part of the content development.
SaaS offers plenty of opportunities for content to go beyond a generic product overview.
This is when having customers as affiliates comes in handy. These affiliates have the ability to invite audiences into their experience - allowing them to address the practical questions and interests of customers in a way traditional ads cannot.
Here’s a few writing prompts that are great for SaaS:
- How has the software changed their workflow?
- If they switched from another software, why and what changed?
- What has kept them as a customer?
- What concerns did they have about using the software and were these concerns solved? (Especially useful for highlighting excellent customer service)
Insight into your company
And finally, knowledge is power. Ensure that affiliates can easily access information around promotions, updates and any other relevant business information.
For example, if you are launching a new feature this week, be sure to give your affiliates the relevant information a few weeks before you launch. This allows for affiliates to ask questions and understand the new feature, giving them time to prepare content that can be shared with their audiences. Plus, they’ll feel part of the process rather than feeling as if they are being left in the dark.
A few ways to share this information includes mailing lists, newsletters or a Facebook group made for your affiliates.
Additionally, share any positive press and placements about your business. Press mentions are a great marketing tool for affiliates - they give credibility with third-party validation and can position you as an industry leader.
Just as your SaaS continues to update, so will your marketing strategy.
For your affiliate program, always be proactive in working with affiliates through the changes and updates as they are an essential asset to your program’s success. By providing the necessary means, they can continue to market your business without hassle and help you grow your business.
Interested in learning more about SaaS affiliate programs? Be sure to check out our blog for more tips.