Across various channels of promoting a SaaS product, word of mouth is still tremendously effective.

If your product is of high quality and your customers love using it, they become the brand ambassadors by spreading the word. 

This effectively makes your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) zero for customers that are brought through this channel of growth.

This channel is more effective when the customers are whomever that like your product and spreads the word is rewarded with a small commission amount of the sale. 

It will still have a lesser CAC than other growth channels. However, the question many SaaS founders face is, how to start an affiliate program without spending a huge amount of development time and resources?

Well, gone are the days where you need to spend weeks of precious development time to get an affiliate program coded into your product offering.

There are so many third-party tools available now that are built specifically for SaaS products to set up your affiliate program within a few hours’ time. 

Using these third-party tools is not only beneficial to the Founders as it saves a lot of time, but also to the affiliates as it provides a higher degree of transparency. 

In this post, we will see the best 3 software tools to set up affiliate programs for SaaS products. 

Rewardful

Pricing - starts from $29 a month

Free Trial - Yes, available for 14 days

Support - Live chat, email

Rewardful is an incredibly easy to install affiliate tool that can be used if you have Stripe as the payment processor for your SaaS. 

The affiliate data sync 2-way with Stripe, so you can see all the information of sales from your affiliates right inside your Stripe dashboard.

All the refunds and cancellations from the customers your affiliates referred are automatically calculated by Rewardful making it extremely easy for the founders to have the support issues with affiliates at a minimum.  

It is easy to filter the exact affiliate you want to have a look into or sort a list of affiliates based on various performance metrics. 

You also get detailed reports and analytics on the number of clicks, the number of visitors, active & expired cookies, total & net revenue, etc. both for the overall campaign and individual affiliates. 

Apart from the general pricing plans with zero transaction fees, Rewardful also has a plan that costs just $29 a month with a 9% transaction fee.

This is good for founders that are not sure of the effectiveness of how an affiliate program would work for their product and want to test the waters initially before diving in to upgrade to a higher plan.

Rewardful pricing

Another neat feature of Rewardful is cross-subdomain tracking which tracks across the main domain and also subdomains like app.domain or dash.domain. 

From the perspective of an affiliate, it is super easy to sign up and generate affiliate links. The links are clean with minimal additional parameters. Payments can be withdrawn via PayPal.

Rewardful affiliate

Rewardful will also handle the email alerts to update affiliates when commissions are earned. 

Another huge advantage of Rewardful over other tools is that in addition to the affiliate program, you can also set-up a referral program for your SaaS tool within Rewardful. This, in turn, will save a lot of money for some Founders who would want both affiliate and referral programs for their product. 

Try Rewardful for free

Some SaaS products using Rewardful - Archbee, Close CRM, Heyflow, Hunter, MemberSpace, Podia, Rebump, ReferralHero.

FirstPromoter

Pricing - starts from $49 a month

Free Trial - Yes, available for 14 days

Support - Live chat, email

First Promoter is a SaaS focused affiliate tracking tool than can used not just with Stripe, but also with other subscription billing platforms like Recurly, Chargebee, Braintree, etc. with easy to use API’s and webhooks. 

Apart from the affiliate links, FirstPromoter also lets you set up and track referrals based on coupon codes. Payouts can be set-up via PayPal and can be processed in just a single click. 

All the subscriptions, upgrades, downgrades and cancellations are automatically calculated by FirstPromoter so that you can only concentrate on promoting your affiliate program.  

It is also possible to set up different commission rates for various pricing plans. Another powerful feature of FirstPromoter is its segmentation that lets you set-up multiple campaigns each with its own sign-up pages, emails, commissions, and links. 

There are different ways to set up the commissions and well. It could be a percentage of sales that are recurring for the lifetime of the customer or for a fixed number of months, or a fixed one-time commission. 

The commissions can also be based on different levels that can be set-up for affiliates. For example, an affiliate will earn a higher percentage once a certain number of sales number is achieved.

It is also possible to run private affiliate campaigns where you can invite only a specific number of affiliates.

For affiliates, the strength of FirstPromoter is its simplicity to use. The main dashboard is minimalistic and clean, with just the essential elements to navigate. 

FirstPromoter affiliate program

Some SaaS products using FirstPromoter - Airfocus, Better Proposals, ClickUp, Databox, Demio, HighLevel CRM, Marketplan, LeadFuze, UpLead.

LinkMink

Pricing - starts from $39 a month

Free Trial - Yes, available for 14 days

Support - Live chat, email

LinkMink is another standalone affiliate platform that can be used for any SaaS product that is using Stripe for billing and subscription.

The strength of LinkMink is its really deep integration with Stripe. You can have complete control of the approval process if you wish to have that.

The deep integration with Stripe makes the calculation of subscriptions, cancellations and refunds super seamless for LinkMink to take care of. 

LinkMink also supports segmented affiliates where you can form different segments of affiliates and set-up various commission structures for each segment. 

The plans for LinkMink starts from $39 a month, but auto payouts are only available in the growth plan that costs $65 a month.

All the plans come with unlimited affiliates with the difference being in the amount monthly referred revenue from the affiliates. This is a good pricing structure as it lets you upgrade the plans as your affiliate program scales up. 

LinkMink also provides concierge migration service in the growth and Business plans where the team will work to migrate the data from any other affiliate program you are currently using. 

It is possible to get some very interesting metrics from LinkMink such as referral churn and you can compare it to your overall churn to get an idea on how effective your affiliate program is. 

This will also give insights on the quality of customers your affiliates are bringing in. 

Some SaaS products using LinkMink - ConvertKit, Crowdcast, RespondFlow, Respond.io. 

Honorable mentions

Although the above three are the best options for a SaaS company to start an affiliate program, there are two more that deserve a mention.

iDevAffiliate (best self-hosted option)

iDevAffiliate is one of the oldest affiliate tracking tools with a very good reputation.

Although the UI is not the most modern-looking, it works well and the pricing structure is really impressive.  

For just $39 per month, you get an unlimited number of affiliates, unlimited traffic, and unlimited commissions.

With the higher plans, you get additional features like built-in social media sharing, Coupon & QR codes, geo-targeting, etc. All the plans come with zero transaction fees. 

Another unique aspect of iDevAffiliate is the self-hosted option which lets you install the tool directly on your website.  

Some SaaS products using iDevAffiliate - Supermetrics, Simplybook. 

PayKickstart (Checkout + affiliate platform)

PayKickstart is not only a pretty good affiliate management platform but also a complete checkout and subscription management tool. 

As it integrates with all major payment processing platforms including Authorize.net, Braintree, Paypal, Stripe, etc., it is possible to run and manage all your subscriptions with PayKickstart along with having a powerful affiliate platform built-in. 

Some SaaS products using Paykickstart - Postaga.

Refersion (best for e-commerce SaaS companies & Shopify apps)

Refersion is a fantastic platform to build affiliate programs for e-commerce based apps because of its wide range of integrations with e-commerce tools like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, etc. 

This along with the Stripe integration makes it very convenient to bring in all the affiliate data into one platform and manage effectively. 

Some SaaS products using Refersion- Beamer, Oviond.

Conclusion

Although there are so many other tools to build an affiliate program, I have not included other tools for two reasons,

They are quite expensive and not a perfect fit for an early stage or bootstrapped SaaS company.

They are not built from the ground up exclusively for SaaS products. 

You get an affordable and feature-rich platform when choosing any of the three above listed tools. 

The choice would mostly depend on the tool you are using for subscription and billing.

If it is Stripe, Rewardful is a great option and for other subscription platforms, FirstPromoter is the best choice with its wide range of integrations. 

The best 3 affiliate tracking software for SaaS founders to start their affiliate program

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