Guys, I need your help (you are my target market)

I decided to pursue a project which was built internally to scratch my own itch, a platform that helps you track and manage affiliates and partners.

I’m in the stage where I need to map the profile of the customer and I hope you can help me out. I’ll appreciate any help and I’ll try to return the favor if I can.

  1. Have you considered or tried affiliates or partners as a growth channel?
  2. What’s stopping you to launch an affiliate/partner program?
  3. How many affiliate requests do you get/month(if any)?
  4. Do you have in your niche non-competing businesses or individuals(like consultants) that have the potential to sell/refer your product to their customers?
  5. Do your competitors offer an affiliate/partner program?

I really hope you can take a minute of your time and give me a hand with this, you know how important this was when you got started :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot

Here you go:

  1. We’ve considered affiliates for years and finally decided to try it this month. We’re in the middle of setting it up right now.

  2. All the hassles related with setting up the whole systems (including payouts) and fear of abuse/fraud.

  3. N/A

  4. Yes, there are many.

  5. Only few of our competitors.

I hope this helps! :slight_smile:

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Awesome, thanks…helps me a lot to validate my assumptions.

Hey Virgil -

Happy to help. As a wordpress plugin developer (AmpedSense), I’ve had varying success with affiliates so far. In short, I never wanted to go with the big guys like CJ or CB, as they attract lousy affiliates. I personally manage ~5 affiliates that integrate using custom code with my payment processor (FastSpring).

Have you considered or tried affiliates or partners as a growth channel?

Yes, only because an existing customer asked if I had one. I said ‘Yup’, and then glued one together immediately :wink:

How many affiliate requests do you get/month(if any)?

1-2, I only tell my existing customer about it, as I want them to be proficient users of it. I’m not afraid to deny requests, as I want the promotions to come authentically, not from people who just want to make more money. Plus, if the affiliates are good at explaining the product to their user base, that cuts down on my support time.

Do you have in your niche non-competing businesses or individuals(like consultants) that have the potential to sell/refer your product to their customers?

Yes, lots of people in the ‘build a website and make money from it’ niche.

Do your competitors offer an affiliate/partner program?

Yes. Other WP plugins as well as other ad optimization companies absolutely do.

Hey, thanks for your reply.

Available networks don’t work unless you are a big, recognized brand. CB is for info-products and the quality of the affiliates is extremly low, CJ for brands, so you made the best decision going your own.

I want to help you, but I don’t know much about the WP plugins affiliate ecosystem :disappointed:

Generally speaking, if you reached product/market fit and your niche has a lot of influencers or non-competing individual/companies that target the same audience(consultants, agencies, webmasters, etc), affiliate model should work, is just that many companies(especially SaaS) don’t really pay too much attention to it, even though I’ve seen higher adoption lately.

Not related to your plugins, but to affiliate channel in general:

After talking with more SaaS owners, I was a bit surprised how much perception of the founder affects the adoption of a marketing channel in SMBs.

To give an example, there are many young vertical B2B companies that have a huge pool of potential partners or affiliates, like freelancers, consultants, agencies, etc which will be glad to get incentives for recommending the product to their audience or customers(even more to bill hours for support and on-boarding), still they think “affiliates are bad…”, but when I change the term to “partners”, the discussion shifts.

Also, when I ask why they think “affiliates” are “bad”, they usually say something like “that’s how everybody thinks”. In my 6-7 years since I’ve been in the performance/affiliate marketing industry I never heard a SMB SaaS company(which strongly adopted this model) complaining about how “bad” or “shady” affiliates are or that they hurt their business. I’m sure there are a few scammers, but the probability to get them to promote your small biz is so low that you shouldn’t even think about it.

I’m really sure that if SMBs put the same amount of resources in building a network of affiliates, partners or resellers as they put in more popular channels like blogging(for example), they will have the same or better results.

Blogging takes about 6 months(or longer) to see any results(even then you are not sure)…on the other hand, after 6 months, if you spend the same amount of time as blogging recruiting affiliates, building relationships with influencers and other related activities, I guarantee that you’ll be amazed how profitable this “external sales force” is…

Sadly, there are very few SMBs(especially SaaS) who are doing this and even fewer who talk about it.

@Virgil - you don’t seem to be asking WHY most B2B companies have this perception? Where does this perceived wisdom that affiliates are shady and in many cases ‘partners’ don’t come up with the goods come from? Perhaps there is some truth to it? Perhaps people have tried (perhaps badly I grant you) and seen it fail?

You keep beating the drum that they are wrong to think like that but thats not enough to convince.

How about showing

  • When it can work and when it doesn’t
  • Showing where people go wrong
  • How to do it right
  • Case studies of companies in different types of industries where it has worked.
  • etc.
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@Rhino you made some good points. I read my text again and sounds a bit like a rant.

Bigger B2B companies and certain niches(like related to internet marketing) don’t have this perception(or they overcame it). CRM tools, many of them have affiliate and partner programs, HR tools, accounting tools, the same…

Just as an example, companies like Shopify, InfusionSoft, FreshDesk, AWeber, HootSuite, Olark, Wrike, WebEngage, Bigcommerce, LeadPages, all Citrix products, these are just a few that comes to my mind that have affiliate programs for years and I know it works for them by the amount of resources they allocate.

Yes, I asked why they think that and like I said in the previous post, it was related to the wisdom of the crowd (usually the circles they are in), but they don’t know exactly why…

The general reputation comes from a past where there weren’t any regulations, the spam was still legal and some big brands attracted bad apples, without any filtering and monitoring in place, which led to abuse. Things are much better now, but the bad reputation still exists in many circles and I don’t know if it’s better to try fix it or just “skip” it using other terms like many do.

However, in B2B(SaaS or not), there weren’t any issues as I know of, so it has no real base/truth. B2B model by default doesn’t attract “bad” affiliates, it’s harder to sell, longer sales cycles, the audience is totally different, etc

The popularity(and reputation in this case) of a channel has a lot to do with how much resources companies allocate from the start. In many cases the ones that tried and seen it fail, treated it with ignorance, something like “let’s try a bit of affiliate marketing”… like Lincoln Murphy from Sixteen Ventures (some of you heard of him, a big advocate of affiliate marketing for SaaS) said something like: “people treat it as another random act of marketing”.

I’ve just talked with the owner of a small SaaS that did about 50k MRR and wanted to try affiliate marketing because some people asked about it. When I said he needs to give at least 20-30% of the revenue as commission he was like “no way, that’s too much” … well, if you want to make it work you need to give something in return. If you treat it like this, of course it will fail. No high quality affiliate would make efforts to sell a product that doesn’t pay him for his work.

I’m in the process to do the things you mentioned in my last topic and here, I’m working on an ebook right now that will answer lots of question about this channel.

I’ll look out for your e-book.

One thing I’ve puzzled about in B2B space is where cookies/referral links wont necessarily work.

  • How do you deal with situations where person purchasing (e.g. accounts bod) is not the person who was ‘sold’.
  • What about if they pay with off-line methods like, strange as it seems in this day and age, cheques!

In B2B, depends on the sales process. The attribution with a cookie tracking method should be made when the user signs up for the trial/demo or when you got the lead, not on payment (at least on decent tracking solutions) so you know who referred that lead and many times, affiliates send the lead directly. When the payment is made, the commission is associated to the partner/affiliate.

Usually in B2B, the affiliates and resellers set up the trial account or purchase by themselves. Some tracking tools for B2B let the affiliate add the customer on the platform manually, especially when the sale doesn’t happen online.

The tracking can become complicated on longer sales cycles, but if you are selling to small businesses, usually the owner or the one who visits the website is also the one who signs up for the trial/demo.

1 Like