I recently started looking for a software that would setup affiliate and referral programs for my SaaS.
Rewardful does that. What I like is that it takes care of tracking conversions right inside Stripe, which is the payment gateway most SaaS use in the background.
This is a quick post on how I would grow it. It’s very polarised to what I know.
As a background, my first SaaS was serving the affiliate marketing industry. I’ve been working with affiliates and going to affiliate conferences for years. I’ve seen enough of the affiliate world and I want to share my 2 cents.
The main thing
So, the first thing Rewardful has to understand is that their customers are technical enough to build their own affiliate tracking systems. In fact, I did code one for my SaaS, Scrapebook, in less than a day, and it works pretty much in the same way.
For that reason, the value is not in the software but mostly in the network. The leverage is the network of affiliates that they would have on their platform ready to scout new SaaS to promote.
Rewardful today does not have an affiliate network but I would 100% build it. It would become basically a marketplace model where on one side they would have affiliates looking for cool products to promote and on the other side, they would have cool software owners looking for affiliates.
Now, which one should you focus on attracting first?
Easy, affiliates. If they get enough affiliates ready to start promoting software products they will have NO problem attracting all the SaaS owners in the world.
There are two types of affiliates: occasional affiliates and professional affiliates. Yes, I completely invented these categories but hear me out.
These are people who really like some products and want to make extra revenue by promoting them. Maybe they are customers of the product and they became raving fans and want to help spread the word. Maybe they are other SaaS owners in a complementary industry.
I do this all the time: I’m an affiliate for FOMO, Yakkyofy, Printful and a bunch of software I like. Once in a while, I email my list about these software or put some banners on my SaaS to advertise them.
An easy move for Rewardful to increase demand would be regularly promoting (maybe a newsletter?) affiliate campaigns that are already on their platform to all the affiliates that ever signed-up for all of their customers’ campaigns.
Now on the platform I only get to see the affiliates that signed up for my specific campaigns and not others, which is ok. I think it should stay that way. But, on the back end, I’m sure they have access to a lot more affiliates and would be great if they could cross promote other software to them. I think it’s a win-win situation for both the SaaS owner and the affiliate.
These are the serious ones. Their whole job is promoting products and earn affiliate commissions. They earn a living by doing this.
It’s a little bit more complicated to handle this kind of affiliates. These affiliates are not used to promote software. Not SaaS anyway. They usually promote physical products or nutra staff and their whole operation can be shady.
The upside is that they already have the money, the knowledge and resources to really move a campaign and make the difference in MRR for the SaaS owner.
How do you find this kind of affiliates?
Well, they usually communicate via Skype, and they usually hang out on affiliate forums and affiliate communities, the main one being STM. There are plenty of other smaller affiliate forums Rewardful can potentially dig in.
With this type of affiliate comes an important part Rewardful would need to figure out on their platform, which is: security. They would need a way to vet affiliates and campaigns and disqualify conversions. For example, if I only want my campaign to accept traffic from Facebook but the traffic the affiliate is sending is from native, conversions should be disqualified and not paid.
The complementary thing
I would build a place to give more information to the affiliate.
I now had to create a page on my site for this (see https://usecart.com/jv) but essentially, I think SaaS owners need a way to:
- clearly convey the offer
- clearly convey what type of traffic is accepted (for example: social traffic ok, solo ads are not)
- clearly understand the current state of the funnel (how does the onboarding works? is there anything else the SaaS owner does to help close the leads the affiliate would send?)
- give more assets (ex: landing/sale pages they can use, specific copy they can use, specific case study they can use, marketing angles they can use, testimonials they can use, blog posts, videos, brand colors)
To help get an understanding about this Rewardful might want to look at established affiliate networks and how they manage their affiliates. For example, they always assign a rep (usually called affiliate manager) to each affiliates that signs up to the network.
There are other things I would do, but these are the main things.
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I’m thinking of making this type of blog posts a series. So, if you want me to write about how I would grow your startup, email me at:
Thanks for reading,
Don’t know me?
I’m Mike, and I make SaaS products around collecting and managing data.
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