How to Drive Traffic with Affiliate Marketing and Paid Media

Puna Paahana

Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 36 seconds

If the traffic to your SaaS site is slow, it’s time to consider two time-tested routes to a bigger audience: affiliate marketing and paid media. Both require a bit of relationship-building, but it’s well worth the time. They help drive new traffic directly to your site.

Affiliate Marketing: The Basics

First, let’s look at affiliate marketing. In the simplest terms, affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products/services and taking a commission on each of their sales. You’re the affiliate, and they’re the producer.

Marketing guru Neil Patel characterizes affiliate marketing with two enticing words: passive income. But be also cautions that there’s significant work involved on the front end before you settle in and collect commissions.

For example, you’ll need to identify trustworthy companies that are open to affiliate relationships. And you’ll need to show what value you can provide them, which is no easy task. Some companies have high standards for affiliates.

You can also form an affiliate strategy in reverse: You pay other people to promote your products. In that scenario, you’re the producer and they’re the affiliate.

Affiliate Example

To picture how an affiliate relationship looks, let’s start with digital marketer Pat Flynn’s example of easy affiliate marketing. When he first launched his LEED exam website in 2008, he didn’t just promote his own LEED software; he also promoted other companies’ practice exam software.

That’s right: He promoted his competitors’ software, right on his own site.

By simply viewing his competitors as potential partners, Flynn became their affiliates and boosted his site traffic immediately. Sure, there were some people who bought Flynn’s competitors’ products instead of his. But the traffic spike made it well worth it, and increased his sales overall.

This is a very basic example of how affiliate marketing can benefit your SaaS business. Many affiliates take it many steps further, by using strategies like dedicated site pages, product reviews, testimonial YouTube videos, and entire businesses devoted to their partners, like the popular site This is Why I’m Broke.

Tips for Launching Affiliate Marketing

Ready to try affiliate marketing program for your SaaS business? Here are some tips for an effective launch.

Connect with affiliate networks. The world’s top affiliate networks are an ever-changing mix of successful companies, but you’ll always see some familiar names, like Amazon and eBay.

Court your followers. Affiliate partnerships can be built from your existing relationships, especially via social media. Which companies follow you on Twitter? Who mentions you in blog posts? Even the smallest sites can help you drive affiliate traffic, so reach out to them.

Know what to pay/charge. Be fair in your pricing model, or companies won’t want to work with you. Affiliate splits of 50% are very common for digital products. If you want a higher percentage, be prepared to prove why you deserve it.

Have a platform in place. Whether you’re the affiliate or you’re seeking affiliates, you’ll need to make sure you can handle the payments flawlessly. Make sure you have a robust SaaS Ecommerce Platform in place before launch.

Paid Media: The Basics

Now let’s explore paid media, another tried-and-true way to drive traffic to your site. Paid media is an old-fashioned idea that continues to work: You simply buy ad space/placements.

For a SaaS business, this means using channels like:

  • Display ads on websites
  • Sponsored mentions
  • Sponsored videos
  • Paid search

Facebook ads and Google Adwords are classic examples of paid media. If you’re skeptical about using these channels, thinking, “Don’t people hate online ads?” read on. People actually like them, when they’re done right.

Paid Media Examples

There’s definitely a right and wrong way to handle paid media placements for SaaS businesses. Let’s look at two examples.

In paid media done wrong, you purchase a large audio/video pop-over ad on a popular software site, pay for as many viewers as possible, and run it as long as you can afford. There are several critical mistakes made here:

  • People hate pop-over ads. They’re intrusive and the #1 reason people install digital ad blockers. Same with ads that automatically play audio – they’re annoying.
  • Paying for maximum viewership means you’re probably wasting money reaching people who are already your customers.
  • Running out your budget on one ad placement prevents running a mix of ads across channels.

In paid media done right, you buy an in-line sponsored mention of your product that’s displayed within search results on a popular software site only when targeted customers look for something related to your software. You set a weekly budget and adjust as needed. This is successful because:

  • In-line sponsored mentions are a more welcome form of advertising and are even considered helpful to the viewer.
  • Targeted ads prevent wasting money on a mass audience, so you can focus on your best prospects.
  • A limited budget per channel contains costs and allows a mixed placement strategy.

Tips for Launching a Paid Media Program

As you plan a paid media program, avoid common pitfalls by following best practices. Here are some paid media tips for SaaS companies:

Mix it up. Make placements on both big-name affiliate sites and small-time sites. See what works best for you and drives the most traffic for your business. You might be surprised to discover that a small ad on a small site does more for you than a relationship with a behemoth like Amazon.com.

Use keywords. Do keyword analysis using a tool like Buzzsumo and include those words in your paid media placements. This ensures you’re hitting the world’s most buzzworthy topics for your business.

Call to action. Always include a call to action within your paid placement. Don’t just include a link and assume people will click on it. Give them a reason, like “40% off design software today only.”

Make it helpful. People react better to paid placements that are helpful – meaning relevant. Use phrases like “#1 ranked,” “bestseller,” “similar to your search results,” and “you might also like.”

Review and adjust. Don’t just launch a paid media plan and orphan it. Review it frequently, track results, and make adjustments to favor your top-traffic channels. This is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most traffic for your money.

By deploying a one-two punch of affiliate marketing and paid media placements, your SaaS site should see increased traffic within days of launch. Make sure you’re ready for the influx with FastSpring, the innovative ecommerce platform that ensures smooth customer transactions, sale after sale. Click here to request your free FastSpring demo today.

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