Affiliate Marketing for B2B SaaS Founders

This is the sixth chapter of the B2B SaaS Marketing Playbook

“Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome.”

Action Items

1. Pay in Account Credits



Mailchimp’s paying customers are incentivized to keep the Mailchimp footer in emails with MonkeyRewards. They provide customers with account credit for each new user that clicks on the footer link and signs up. (MonkeyRewards)

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Notion Referral Program

Notion offers a dual-reward system for referrals. They reward referrers and referees with account credit instead of money. (Referrals)


Airtable Referral Program

Airtable also offers a dual-reward system for referrals. The affiliate program gives users an extra incentive to spread the word. (Page)

2. Pay a Flat Fee Per Referral


Individual Affiliate Program

Zoom offers an affiliate program. Users act as salespeople to help spread the word. Referrers are paid based on performance. (Zoom Referrals)


Affiliate Program

Shopify has a generous affiliate program. Affiliates function as a large, independent salesforce that’s paid for performance. (Shopify Affiliate Program)

3. Offer a Period-Based Commission


Affiliate Program

Webflow’s affiliate program offers 50% of all payments for 12 months. This has led instructors like Ran Segall to create high-quality courses teaching others how to use Webflow. (Webflow Affiliates)

4. Pay a Lifetime Commission


20% Lifetime Commission

Ahrefs offered a generous affiliate program from 2011 to 2015. There’s speculation that a similar program may be returning soon. (Post)

5. Use Enterprise Resellers


Enterprise Resellers

Zoom established mutually beneficial relationships with other companies to push their product. They reward enterprise partners for helping them with distribution. (Zoom Resellers)


Paid Virality

Affiliate marketing can be thought of as paid viral marketing. Companies drive users to share with incentives instead of solely relying on a remarkable product experience.

Paying with Credit

Companies lower affiliate program costs by rewarding users with credits instead of money.

This lower-cost growth strategy allows SaaS companies to lengthen their runway and/or reduce the need for funding. Notion, Mailchimp and Airtable reward users with credits instead of currency.

Dual Reward Affiliate Programs

SaaS companies accelerate growth by rewarding referees as well as referrers.

Companies that rely on a dual-reward system tend to offer credits instead of money. This drastically lowers the operating costs. Notion and Airtable both use dual-rewards along with service credits.

Evolving Strategy

Affiliate programs can be used as a stepping stone to organic growth.

Ahrefs offered affiliates a lifetime commission before ending the program as organic growth picked up. The product became remarkable enough to sustain growth without a generous affiliate program.

The Book

This is the sixth chapter of the B2B SaaS Marketing Playbook