How to Create an Affiliate Program for your SaaS

How to Create an Affiliate Program for your SaaSThe CEO of a vertical-specific SaaS vendor with a relatively high priced offering emailed me the other day with a question about creating an Affiliate Marketing program to accelerate growth.

I gave him a fairly detailed answer and I thought I’d elaborate on that answer even more and share it with you… enjoy.

“Hey Lincoln, we’re thinking of starting an affiliate marketing program for our SaaS company to help accelerate growth.

From what I’ve read and the examples I’ve seen they’re commonly offered by lower priced SaaS apps, sub $200/mo, but our app is higher priced at $1k, $5k, or $10k/mo.

I’m thinking of offering an affiliate commission of 1 month of Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) after month 2 for all converted referrals. And maybe double that for an annual subscription.

I know you’ve talked about Affiliate Marketing for SaaS apps before, but do you know of any successful B2B SaaS affiliate programs with similar subscription prices?”

Below is my significantly-elaborated response…

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SaaS Marketing: 21 Growth Hacks to Test Today

SaaS Marketing Growth HackingBelow are 21 SaaS marketing growth hacks you could test right now.

Of course, these are tactics and while everyone loves tactics, if they don’t make sense within your very well thought-out SaaS marketing strategy, you should probably not implement them, right?

In fact, you should also probably make sure you have a well-thought-out SaaS marketing strategy, too.

Now, some of these “hacks” I’ve used and have seen a big impact… others are just ideas I haven’t implemented yet but might if the occasion arises… and some are just crazy ideas that I think would work if the situation is right.

Guess what? I’m not gonna tell you which ones are which so use your imagination and a good bit of caution.

I’m also not going to show you live examples of what I’ve implemented or share results. You see, I’ve helped my clients with these tactics and they’d like a little bit more time out in front of you, thank you very much.

The goal here is to get you thinking in the right direction, that’s all. Fair enough?
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SaaS Sales Funnel: Stop Optimizing for the Wrong Customers

SaaS Sales Funnel Optimization“OMG… That’s not who’s signing up for my app!” exclaimed Jerry, after we discovered who his ideal customers are and that he’s been optimizing his Sales Funnel for the wrong customers.

You see, Jerry owns a custom software dev shop that spun-out a web app they used internally for managing parts of their business as SaaS.

He was stressed – to say the least – since his SaaS product hadn’t taken off like he wanted.

In fact… to say he was completely frustrated with his progress would be an understatement.

I mean he was fed up, man… the original “had it up to here.”

But we figured out what was wrong, and now Jerry is a happy man.

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SaaS Freemium Customer Acquisition Costs

I got an email the other day asking about Freemium Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) and whether or not to include the cost of supporting and marketing to free users in the cost of acquiring paying customers.

Here’s my quick answer and some other resources for you to check out.

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SaaS Marketing: Are you Lazy or Deliberate?

When it comes to SaaS marketing, we know that Random Effort Yields Random Results… but it gets worse.

The problem I see too often – and the catalyst for this epic post – isn’t Random Marketing, but what I call Lazy Marketing.

And lazy marketing is perhaps a more insidious form of marketing, if for no other reason than the fact that it looks like its

It’s not until you take a step back and examine what’s really going on – the actual results – that you see it is not only not working…

… but it’s killing your business.

It’s time to stop being lazy and get deliberate with your marketing.

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SaaS Churn: Measure Revenue or Customer Retention?

Okay, this is it… finally, my definitive answer on measuring SaaS churn!

I’ve heard it all before… things like “Lincoln, you talk about churn a lot, but you don’t ever say anything!”

First, that’s just hurtful.

Second, all of these “how do I measure the success of a SaaS business?” questions depend on so many different factors, it’s super-hard to generalize.

Wait… let me re-phrase that.

It’s super-easy to generalize; it’s just hard if you care about sending the wrong message.

And I don’t want to send the wrong message, so I’ve laid it out as simply as I can.

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SaaS Marketing: Random Effort Yields Random Results

Never is it more clear that random effort yields random results than when you look at the “marketing” of far too many SaaS companies…. maybe even yours.

Take a look at a SaaS company that’s stagnating or failing to reach their goals, and you almost always find this random hodgepodge of tactics that they “tried” at one time or another.

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SaaS Growth Hacking: An Interview with Lincoln Murphy

After I published “Rise of the Growth Copyists” where I said that really successful SaaS growth hacking is creative and that most just copy others, the guys over at reached out to me and wanted to setup an interview with me.

Definitely check it out… a good time was had by all…. but before you do, read the rest of this post!

SaaS Growth Hacking with Lincoln Murphy

During the 75-minute video interview, we deep-dive on such questions as:
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Engagement is the key to lowering SaaS Churn

If you’re dealing with a high SaaS churn rate,  a lack of customer engagement could be the reason.

Customer retention – or conversely customer churn – is a common struggle for expansion-stage SaaS companies, and while some of it may come as “growing pains,” there may be other causes… customer engagement may be the biggest reason.

I sat down with the fine folks over at OpenView Partners for this podcast, where we discuss reasons you might be falling into high churn rates and I offered a bunch of tips and tactics for retaining high-quality (high-yield) customers.

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SaaS Marketing: Rise of the Growth Copyists?

Let’s be clear… when it comes to your SaaS marketing plan, finding inspiration in the work of others is very different from copying them outright.

The American playwright Wilson Mizner famously said: “If you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism. If you copy from two, it’s research.”

So as a SaaS provider, if you copy the pricing pages, free trial sign-up form, viral expansion loops, and follow-up email sequence from several different SaaS vendors, you’re not plagiarizing them… you did “research” and now you’re implementing your learnings, right?

I call shenanigans on that… and here’s why.

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Who’s your ideal customer?

Over the years I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of SaaS providers from around the world rapidly accelerate customer acquisition and reduce their SaaS churn rates.

And in just about every instance I found myself asking them the same questions.

The fact that these questions were not easily answered or – if they were – that the answers were ignored, often shed light on the underlying cause of several different problems my SaaS provider clients faced.

From stagnating growth, to unacceptable churn, to a less-than-acceptable ROI on AdWords and other paid traffic spend, it became clear to me that we have a problem.

And this problem isn’t small or to be ignored.

To the contrary, it is resulting in SaaS provider executives – just like you – going back to their investors and board with less-than-stellar results, for Founders and CEOs of SaaS companies who know they have the best product out there pulling their hair out at the lack of new customers or the super-high churn rates.

And for the SaaS CMO and Marketing teams who have implemented rigorous A/B testing programs that are functioning properly but not resulting in statistically significant lift, the crisis is mounting.

What is going on here?!?!?!

Simple… you’re attracting the wrong audience and here’s why.

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SaaS Customer Success: Eliminate ‘Dead Ends’ to Drive Engagement

What if I said there was something you were doing right now that was actively reducing your SaaS customer success?

What if that thing you’re doing was standing in the way of driving higher levels of engagement and was reducing the amount of expansion revenue you’re generating while potentially increasing churn?

What if I said there’s a very good chance you’re doing it right now and don’t even know it?

What if I said that it’s easy to fix if you just keep reading?

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SaaS Customer Success: Start with Quick Wins

SaaS Customer Success - Start with Quick WinsSaaS Customer Success starts by orchestrating “Quick Wins” for your customers, helping them bypass their natural tendency to seek out reasons not to use your service!

I was in Silicon Valley recently and I found myself talking about this idea of “Quick Wins” several times within the context of SaaS Customer Success and I wanted to share this idea with you, too.

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SaaS Churn Threats: Identify and Retain At-Risk Customers

Now that you are attracting the right customers and monitoring for and driving engagement to lower your SaaS Churn Rate, you need to start monitoring and getting proactive on Churn Threats.

SaaS churn threats aren’t just a signal that you have an at-risk customer; these are literally threats to your business, your revenue, your valuation & your ability to grow and they should be taken very seriously.

And since churn is a customer lifecycle issue, not just something that happens at the end of the customer lifetime, the seeds of churn are often planted early and they actually start to sprout over the course of the customer lifetime.

If you aren’t looking for it, you could miss that your customers are telling you that they’re going to stop paying you at some point very soon.

They’re telegraphing their next move and it’s up to you to read the signals and jump into action.

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SaaS Churn Rate Improvement: Monitor and Drive Engagement

SaaS Churn Rate Improvement - Monitor and Drive EngagementIn my last post I shared some actual ways to reduce your SaaS Churn Rate, including attracting the right customer and managing expectations.

In this post, I’m going to go deeper, and share some awesome methods for improving customer retention by leveraging the power of the SaaS business model, specifically the ability of the provider to monitor for and drive Customer Engagement.

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SaaS Churn Rate Reduction Starts with Attracting the Right Customers

Customer churn can have a devastating effect across your entire SaaS company.

From the negative impact on your company valuation because your SaaS churn rate is too high, to the drag on growth you feel when you have to replace lost customers or revenue before you can make forward progress… churn is bad news.

Over the next several posts I’ll outline five methods for churn reduction and customer retention that fully embrace the power of the SaaS business model…. let’s get started.

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SaaS Churn Rate: Go Negative with Expansion Revenue

I mentioned, “Expansion Revenue” and “Negative Churn” in my post SaaS Churn Rate: What’s Acceptable? and I wanted to expand on those concepts a bit.

But first…

UPDATE 1 : Dollar Revenue Retention – DRR – is the latest SaaS churn rate metric you need to know about (after you read this post, of course).

UPDATE 2: Actually, DRR isn’t the best metric. Net Revenue Retention – NRR – is. NRR is the “net” revenue left over from an existing cohort of customers, less any revenue churn (caused by customers leaving totally or staying, but paying less for the privilege), plus any expansion revenue from upsells, cross-sells, etc.

UPDATE 3: I’m so over the term “Negative churn.” Can we agree to call it Account Expansion?

Okay, so back to the original points of this 2013 post – Expansion Revenue and “Negative Churn” (ugh, see above)… I honestly believe that fully grasping the power of these two concepts could change your SaaS business forever.

No pressure… but you might want to read this post carefully.

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SaaS Churn Rate: What’s Acceptable?

saas-churn-rate-what-is-acceptableIs 5% a good monthly SaaS Churn Rate? Read on to learn the answer…

As a consultant to SaaS and Cloud providers that are looking to grow, I get asked what an acceptable SaaS churn rate is all the time.

As I stated in my article SaaS Providers: Growth Requires Proactive Customer Retention the answer is you want a churn rate that is “as low as possible.”

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