If you’re looking to create an additional stream of income, you might want to consider affiliate marketing.
In affiliate marketing, you promote another company’s products or services (the company is referred to as the “merchant”). You earn a commission each time a purchase is made using your affiliate links. The affiliate program is the website that allows the affiliate and merchant to collaborate. The merchant provides the products, while the affiliate marketer can use the platform to choose links, see stats, and track their success.
Merchants use affiliate tracking software to monitor clicks, track conversions, and pay out commissions. Some merchants run their own stand-alone affiliate program, while others are part of an affiliate network alongside hundreds or thousands of other merchants. CJ Affiliate and Clickbank are two of the most well-known networks.
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In this post, I will try to give you my insights into some of the best SaaS affiliate programs, and how you can use them to drive value to your readers while increasing your income.
Why Should You Consider Affiliate Marketing?
Unfortunately, affiliate marketing has garnered a poor reputation in some circles due to the unethical behaviors of a minority of merchants and affiliates. Many dismiss it as a get-rich-quick scheme or akin to multilevel marketing. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
When it’s done well, affiliate marketing is simply about promoting the products you believe in, and making money while doing so. In fact, most popular online service providers and ecommerce sites now have their own affiliate programs. Proponents of affiliate marketing include Amazon, Walmart, and well-known domain registrars such as Namecheap.
Affiliate marketing has grown at an astounding 52% in the last five years. The industry is valued at around $6.8 billion this year, with over 11,000 affiliate programs in the United States alone.
If you need proof that affiliate marketing works, look to the success of marketers like Good Financial Cents and Adam Enfroy, both of whom make thousands of dollars per month from affiliate sales. While I don’t want to promise that you’ll be able to hit these figures, there is definitely money to be made in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate programs that are less known but represent a great financial opportunity are those in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketing space. Why? Because SaaS companies’ services have a low churn rate and a high average lifetime value per customer. As an affiliate marketer, your ultimate goal is to reach the “smart passive income” phase – in other words, where money keeps coming in on a regular basis for work you’ve already done.
As an aspiring SaaS affiliate marketer, how do you know which program you should choose? In the next section, we’ll look at the factors you should consider when you are choosing an affiliate program.
What to Look For in An Affiliate Program
As I’ve previously mentioned, affiliate marketing has something of a poor reputation. In order to avoid this, you must resist the temptation to promote anything and everything to make a quick buck. Central to affiliate marketing success is legitimacy and trustworthiness.
What does this mean in practice? You should promote products that you use and are familiar with yourself. By knowing the product inside out, you understand its benefits, the problems it solves, and the challenges it helps to overcome. This allows you to provide more value to your readers and to produce content and recommendations that are relevant and which your readers can identify with.
In other words, promote products you really believe in. Trust is everything in marketing, especially affiliate marketing.
These are some of the other important factors to consider as you choose which program(s) to join:
You should choose an affiliate program with robust technical capabilities if you want to see the best possible results. Before you join a program, check what affiliate tracking software it uses and ensure it has all the necessary functionality.
The best affiliate tracking software solutions offer all of the following:
- Deeplinking. This is the ability to create a custom affiliate link to any page on the website, not just the homepage.
- Cookieless tracking. This utilizes scripts instead of cookies to monitor site visits, and is increasingly important due to more browsers using tracking protection.
- Postback tracking. This is a method of tracking that does not rely on using a tracking pixel and instead stores user data directly to the advertiser’s server.
- API. This stands for Application Program Interface and allows for various platforms to work seamlessly together, streamlining the process for both merchants and affiliates.
- Product feed. This lists all the merchant’s products and key data about each, allowing you to more effectively promote them to your audience.
Before you go any further, ensure your chosen program offers all these functions.
High Commission Rates
Each merchant will offer different commission rates to the affiliates in its program. In the SaaS industry, the typical commission rate will be around 20%, with some variations based on the subscription length. Rates also depend on how much value a company places on affiliate marketing, and how competitive they want to be.
While a high commission rate is not the only thing to consider, it’s a good place to start. The bottom line is this: don’t sell yourself short. Affiliate marketing requires time and effort. If the commission rate is too small, it won’t be worth your time.
Long Cookie Lifespan
Cookies are small pieces of data that are stored on your computer when you visit a website. They allow businesses to track users’ actions for marketing and monitoring purposes. However, cookies don’t last forever – they have an expiration date.
Therefore, pay attention to the cookie lifespan before you join an affiliate program. If the program advertises a 30-day lifespan, for example, you will earn your commission if a site visitor makes a purchase within 30 days of clicking your affiliate link.
Since people often don’t convert on a first website visit, longer cookie lifespans are advantageous to you as the affiliate. Cookie lifespans range from 1 day to 100 days or even longer. In general, don’t bother with programs that have a cookie duration of less than 30 days.
Good Brand Recognition
Remember: you earn when people subscribe through your affiliate link. While branding is often a great conversion factor, a new brand with a truly innovative product might help drive more conversions. Therefore, you need to find the right balance between branding and innovation.
Consider these factors:
- Number of customers and revenue scale. How many customers does the merchant company have? How does it fare against its competitors? What is its annual turnover? Is it a local, national, or an international brand?
- Customer testimonials. Are reviews generally favorable?
- Social media presence. How active is the company on social media and what level of engagement does it typically get?
If a prospective affiliate program merchant has a recognizable brand and good reputation, you can proceed safe in the knowledge that it is a good company to partner with.
Trust and communication are vital to a good working relationship. Is the company transparent with its affiliates?
Check whether your prospective affiliate merchant has clear affiliate program policies and conditions. You should easily be able to find out how commissions are calculated, any rules you’ll be bound by, and who to contact if you need help or support.
If not, you might wish to move onto the next program. A lack of transparency spells trouble down the road.
One last but critical consideration when selecting a SaaS affiliate program is the level of integrations the product has with other tools you promote. You’ll understand quickly how this can help you lift conversions and turn your readers into fans!
Best Affiliate and Referrals Programs
Now that you know what to look for in a great affiliate program, let’s explore some of the best affiliate programs in the SaaS and marketing spaces.
I’ll give you an overview of each company’s affiliate program and the main benefits to joining.
Let’s dive in!
Woorise’s referral program gives its affiliates the opportunity to earn up to 30% in recurring commissions if they successfully refer paying customers. Payment methods are flexible, too. You can earn cash credit which you can use against your own monthly plan, or get paid via Paypal once you’ve built up $100 in commissions.
The product is a tool that allows users to create giveaways and contests for the web, mobile, and social media. There is a substantial market for tools of this kind, since digital marketing is critical to all businesses that conduct lead generation activities.
With the Woorise affiliate program, you get access to a comprehensive dashboard, which allows you to monitor your performance and track your conversions.
As a Hubspot affiliate, you can earn up to $1,000 commission for each product sold, depending on the product tier. The tiers are broken down like this:
- Starter/basic: $250
- Professional/CMS: $500
- Enterprise: $1000
As many customers will purchase more than one product, the potential earnings are very high. For example, if a customer purchased the Enterprise Growth Suite, the affiliate would make around $3000 in commission. Hubspot is one of the most well-known and highly regarded names in SaaS for marketing and sales, so you’ll also have brand recognition and a strong reputation on your side.
It’s very easy to market Hubspot’s products and you won’t need to create any of your own marketing materials. The company provides you with a large creative inventory that includes demo videos, banners, and even sample copy you can use to drive conversions.
Hubspot’s cookie lifespan is an impressive 90 days.
ConvertKit is an email service provider and one of the fastest growing email marketing companies around. You can earn commissions by enticing your site visitors to sign up for any of ConvertKit’s webinars on email marketing, or for purchasing one of its packages.
For every customer you refer, you’ll get a recurring 30% commission. In other words, you’ll earn a commission every month for as long as someone you refer remains a member. With ConvertKit plans ranging from $29 to over $2000 per month, the sky’s the limit in terms of the amount you can earn.
You get access to a dashboard to track your progress, as well as graphics, video assets, and evergreen webinar content. You can even get access to an online training course with entrepreneur Pat Flynn and ConvertKit’s Affiliate Manager, Alexis Teichmiller.
ConvertKit’s cookies are at the minimum acceptable lifespan of 30 days.
Like ConvertKit, AWeber offers a 30% recurring commission to its affiliates who successfully refer paying customers to the company. AWeber is an email marketing app that helps users create a mailing list, design newsletters, and more. In other words, tools that are in high demand with businesses.
The reporting function allows you to see many people click your referral link, and how much money you make from each visit.
AWeber also makes marketing its products incredibly simple, offering a comprehensive library of content that you can access from your referral account and repurpose on your channels.
Leadpages offers up to an impressive 50% commission rate to its affiliates. This commission is also recurring, meaning that affiliates will continue to make money every time their referred customer renews or upgrades their account.
Leadpages is a highly regarded lead generation tool that enables customers to create landing pages, set up email sign-up forms, and much more. In short, the tool is very useful for small and big businesses alike. As a recognized brand name that has been operating for over a decade, Leadpages is trusted and has great reviews.
Aside from the generous monthly commissions you can earn, you can also get access to exclusive Leadpages deals and packages for your website. This perk becomes available once you have a proven sales history of over 20 customers per month.
You can also get access to a range of banners, social media-friendly links, and sidebar images to use on your website and across your promotional channels.
Unbounce is a custom landing page builder that offers a range of packages beginning at $80 per month and rising to $300 per month. Unbounce is a long-standing, recognizable brand, and enjoys consistently great reviews.
For every customer you refer to Unbounce, you get a 20% commission. You also earn a 20% lifetime cut from every single transaction your referral makes for as long as they remain an Unbounce customer.
Unbounce cookie lifespan is 90 days. That’s far longer than that offered by many affiliate programs, including those on this list.
You don’t have to worry if you’re just starting out as an affiliate marketer. Unbounce helps you succeed with a comprehensive set of useful resources. You’ll have access to training resources, partner templates, and promotion assets. You even have a dedicated partner coach who is only ever an email away!
If you’re working in the search engine optimization (SEO) or digital marketing space, you can’t do much better than SEMrush. SEMrush offers an all-in-one tool that encompasses SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media, and competitor intelligence. As one of the best-known and most highly regarded solutions on the market, its reputation is its strength.
The affiliate program offers a generous 40% recurring commission rate on referred subscriptions. That’s an average of $160 per month, per referral. Its top affiliates earn an average of $2845 per month!
It operates on a first-click attribution model, meaning that if someone clicks through to SEMrush using your link first, you’ll get the commission even if they later use another affiliate’s link. Its cookie lifespan is an incredible ten years.
If you have readers and website visitors all over the world, you can also benefit from SEMrush’s multilingual marketing materials. Banners, widgets, and ebooks are all currently available in 10 different languages.
BigCommerce is an ecommerce solution that serves online retailers across a wide range of industries. The company has paid out over $1.5 million in commissions in the last year alone!
BigCommerce has one of the best commission rates I’ve ever seen, paying out 200% of the referred customer’s first monthly payment, or $1500 per referral to its Enterprise plan. You can also access higher commission tiers as you drive more referrals to the platform.
BigCommerce provides ready-to-use banners, links, email marketing copy, blogs, and webinars. You’ll also have direct access to an Affiliate Manager who is there to help you increase your referrals and earn higher commission rates.
Tribe is a platform that allows businesses and creators to build branded online communities. The user can integrate it with their own website or run it as a stand-alone platform. Users range from support networks to niche interest and membership groups.
Tribe’s affiliate program has three different commission tiers, starting at 15% and rising to 20% and then 25% based on the number of successful referrals. Commissions are recurring, so you’ll earn every month as long as your referral remains a customer.
Affiliates have access to a portal that offers images, video content, pre-written email templates, and other useful content to help them promote the platform. The cookie lifespan is a respectable 60 days.
Moosend is best known as an email marketing platform, but it is also far more. It offers marketing automation, landing page design, subscription forms, robust analytics, and much more. In other words, it is useful for any business that engages in digital marketing, meaning there’s a large target audience for the platform.
Moosend’s affiliate program offers a 30% recurring monthly commission for each referral who signs up for a monthly or pay-as-you-go account. You’ll also get an increase in your commission if your referred customer upgrades their plan to a higher level at any point after joining.
Affiliates get access to real-time statistics through its affiliate tracking system. The cookie lifespan is an impressive 120 days, and payouts are made quickly.
Adam Enfroy, affiliate marketer extraordinaire, describes Moosend as “one of my favorite affiliate programs”.
11. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is a popular all-in-one marketing solution. It integrates seamlessly with a huge range of other tools and platforms including Facebook, Salesforce, Hootsuite, WordPress, and Shopify.
The Constant Contact affiliate program is unique in that customers don’t even need to spend any money for you to make a commission. You’ll earn $5 for every customer you refer who signs up for a free, no-credit-card-required trial. If that customer goes on to upgrade to a paid plan at the end of the trial, you’ll earn a bonus of $105. Commissions are unlimited, so you can refer as many people as you like.
Its market-tested creative assets and reliable tracking platform make it easy to boost your sales and keep track of how much you’ll make each month.
Syed Balkhi, founder of wpbeginner.com, describes Constant Contact as one of his favorite affiliate programs, praising its “five-star support, detailed reporting, and competitive commissions”.
Pipedrive is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, flexibly designed to suit multiple business models. It allows businesses to manage leads, track communications, automate processes, create reports, and more. The company already has over 90,000 businesses signed up.
Affiliates receive a 33% commission, recurring monthly for the first year of the customer contract. Affiliates also get access to online training materials and the Affiliate Partner Portal, which houses a range of useful creative assets and marketing resources. The low payout threshold of $50 means you can expect to get your money quickly.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a popular and versatile video editing tool. It allows users to make motion graphics, 2D animations, video stories, visual effects, and more. It is part of the Adobe suite, some of the world’s most-used creative software solutions.
Commission rates depend upon whether your referred customer signs up for a monthly or annual plan. Monthly rolling plans and annual plans billed monthly earn 85% of one month’s subscription fee. Plans billed annually earn 8.33% of the one year subscription fee.
Affiliates get access to a range of ready-to-use creative and marketing assets. There are also regular, exclusive promotions to help you drive more sales, and up-to-date information on new product releases.
The cookie lifespan is 30 days.
Freshbooks is a cloud accounting solution for businesses of all sizes. It helps companies to manage their budget, set aside enough money to cover their tax bill, and forecast future earnings.
Freshbooks is another affiliate program that rewards affiliates for free trial sign-ups. You can earn up to $10 each time someone you refer signs up for a free trial. How much you earn will depend on the source your lead comes from. If one of your referrals upgrades to a paid plan, you’ll earn up to $200 regardless of the source of the referral.
Freshbooks offers an impressive 120 days cookie lifespan. Affiliates also get access to a dedicated support team, and protection from commission poaching by adware and trademark bidding. A variety of marketing materials are provided, and new affiliates get access to a useful downloadable guide to affiliate marketing.
Freshbooks’ affiliate program is managed through Shareasale, one of the world’s biggest affiliate marketing networks.
Anytrack is a fairly recent newcomer to the SaaS marketing industry, but it carries features that will not only help you earn affiliate commissions if you join their affiliate program, but it will also enable you to better manage your traffic.
AnyTrack is an affiliate tracking software that helps marketers measure and track their affiliate campaigns. Because every marketer needs to track something, whether you are a blogger, an agency or an affiliate manager, you’ll always come across affiliate marketers in need of a better affiliate tracking software. Because AnyTrack helps marketers track their SEO, PPC and social media campaigns, there’s a significant audience to attract.
The commission rate is 15%, recurring monthly for as long as the referred individual remains a customer. With subscription fees ranging from $50 to $300 per month, just a few sales has the potential to bring in hundreds of dollars in commissions each month.
Marketing materials are provided, and you may be able to offer a special discount or deal to your customers.
When promoting SaaS marketing tools like LeadPages, Convertkit, and Woorise, one of the best possible ways to hook your readers is by showing them how these tools integrate in order to improve marketing performances.
For example, if you write a blog post about running lead generation campaigns on Facebook, you will want to clearly outline how Unbounce, Woorise, and AnyTrack can work together to automate and scale your campaigns.
Despite some negative associations, affiliate marketing is a great way to increase your income. But it takes time and effort to do it well, and that starts with doing your research to find the right companies to partner with. You can join as many affiliate programs as you like, but I recommend beginning with no more than three. As your affiliate marketing endeavors scale, you can always join more later on.
The eight affiliate programs on this list are along the best in the SaaS and marketing space. Ultimately, you must decide which program is right for you. Then all you need to do is sign up and promote, promote, promote!
Here’s to bringing in lots of additional income this year through your affiliate marketing efforts.