The past year and the COVID-19 pandemic saw sweeping changes hit the SaaS marketing landscape. As a result, 2021 will see the rise of several interesting SaaS marketing trends. One of the most important you should be paying attention to is affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing, and why should a SaaS business invest in it? It’s a strategy in which brands commission third parties or affiliates to recommend and market their products and services. Affiliates share the brand’s links with their audiences through videos, social media, blogs, and more. The brand then pays for leads or sales generated through the affiliates’ efforts.
Affiliate marketing is a useful channel for just about any kind of business, but it’s of particular value for SaaS businesses. Below are the reasons why.
Why Should a SaaS Business Use Affiliate Marketing?
First and foremost, affiliate marketing is an attractive prospect for SaaS businesses because it is cost-effective. Consider most traditional marketing models, wherein you have to pay in advance for the hope that your campaign brings in new customers. That’s not the case with affiliate marketing, as you only pay commissions for results.
In an affiliate marketing campaign, you track metrics to determine which affiliates are driving business your way. Depending on how you set things up, you might only need to pay for leads that convert. This pay-for-performance model helps you keep marketing costs low, but it’s just one of several benefits that affiliate marketing can bring you.
On top of saving money, here are some of the other big reasons you should be exploring an affiliate marketing strategy.
1. Better Targeting for Niche Audiences
While it is possible to do some targeting with ads on Google or social media platforms, the likelihood of bringing in low-quality traffic through such campaigns is increased. After all, their audiences are more general.
Affiliates, on the other hand, are already familiar with your products or services and have audiences that overlap with your own. Marketing through affiliates results in higher quality leads and more conversions.
For example: Partnering with an influential content creator who provides trusted reviews and tutorials for a loyal audience instantly puts your products and services in front of said audience. They’re already predisposed to being interested in what you have to offer, which makes what you have to offer far more valuable to them than the random prospect you might attract with a run-of-the-mill internet advertisement.
2. Increased Loyalty and Industry Credibility
The benefits of exposing your products and services directly to well-targeted niches go beyond an increase in short-term conversions, though. Affiliate marketing is also a long-term strategy that generates credibility among your most promising potential customers, and loyalty to your brand when you deliver on what they need.
Having a relationship with trusted affiliates signals to their audience and your future customers that your products or services are worthy of respect. This effect is magnified when your offerings are of superior quality, and when you compensate your affiliates appropriately. They’ll be doubly motivated to sing your praises and maybe spread the word to other affiliates.
3. Maximized Word-of-Mouth Effect
Positive buzz can have a profound effect on your brand. Affiliate marketing, meanwhile, is a great way to generate positive buzz — thanks to the earnest endorsement of your affiliates.
It’s more akin to a trusted friend recommending a product than to a salesperson trying to nudge consumers into buying something. Affiliate audiences are more apt to take to your brand and spread the word. The more reputable your affiliates are within your industry, the more pronounced the effect usually is. You’ll want to concentrate your efforts on crafting a network of top-tier promoters with tight-knit audiences.
Thankfully, that word-of-mouth effect also works to attract more high-quality affiliates to your network. If the initial affiliates within your program find your software worthy and your incentives generous, they’ll be more likely to tell other potential affiliates about your business. This can magnify your network growth efforts beyond what your SaaS affiliate software can round up alone and help you bring in new promoters who are a perfect fit.
4. Excellent Opportunities for Co-Branding
As your relationships with prominent affiliates grow, you’ll have the chance to take advantage of various co-branding strategies. The latter will expand your brand awareness, increase conversions, and further solidify your place within the market.
At its most basic, co-branding helps you create synergy with your affiliate partners and gain access to a larger potential customer base. More in-depth co-branding relationships can strengthen your affiliate relationships to the point of exclusivity, allowing you to ward off competitors from a particular niche.
However, you’ll want to be careful about who you’re co-branding with — as an amplified reward can also come with shared risk. The close association between you and your affiliate partners means that negative experiences customers have with them could also tarnish your reputation, even if such association is unwarranted.
5. More Effective Product Launches
Having access to a strong affiliate network makes it easier to launch new software products and have an audience ready to go. Regardless of your niche, your affiliates can help with pre-promotion during the lead-up to your product launch — via previews of what you’ll be offering and other pre-launch promotional activities they can engage their audience with.
Your affiliates can continue to help build interest in your new product post-launch with reviews, tutorials, recommendations, and the like. It’s like having a head start on success — one that you can maximize by ensuring your high-quality software maintains the respect of your carefully cultivated audience.
How Does Using Affiliate Software for SaaS Help?
The reasons why a SaaS business should use affiliate marketing are numerous. However, your business won’t see the benefits of your affiliate program if it’s poorly conceived or poorly managed.
If you’re new to the concept of affiliate marketing, you’ll want to make sure you start on the right foot, which is where affiliate management tools like LeadDyno come into play.
Software like this will help you plan, grow, and track the progress of your affiliate program, putting all the information you need at your fingertips so you can chart the perfect course towards success.