What makes SaaS affiliate programs better than regular affiliate programs? 

It’s the size of the commissions.

As a consumer product affiliate, it can be hard to make a living earning 8-15% on $10-20 products.  

SaaS affiliate programs are different — you can earn big, one-time payments of hundreds of dollars, or even recurring payments every month. Imagine getting a steady check for as long as your referred users stay customers.

That’s the reality for successful SaaS affiliates around the world.

In this article, we’ll cover 15 of the highest-paying and easiest-to-promote SaaS affiliate programs in 2021. We’ll also break down how to choose the right one for you, including commission rates, brand reputation, and cookie lifespan.

How does a SaaS affiliate program work?

A SaaS affiliate program pays third-party advertisers to promote their SaaS products on a per-deal or per-lead basis.

Essentially, it works like this:

  • An affiliate signs up, showing the SaaS company where they intend to promote the product (an industry blog, software review site, or YouTube channel).
  • The SaaS company approves the affiliate and gives them a unique affiliate link.
  • The affiliate starts promoting the product.
  • Every time the affiliate sends traffic to the affiliate link and it results in a sale (or other conversion), the SaaS company pays the affiliate.

Affiliate marketing is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s expected to reach $8.2 billion in annual marketing spend in the US alone by 2022.

And if you want a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie, it’s easier than you think. Just check out some of the benefits of becoming a SaaS affiliate below.

Unique benefits of SaaS affiliate programs

SaaS affiliate programs offer many unique benefits when compared to regular affiliate programs.

  • Earn very high one-time or recurring commissions and payouts. For example, the average ActiveCampaign affiliate earns $1,350 per referral. That’s unheard of in other industries.
  • You have access to the latest marketing materials for the brands you’re looking to promote. It’s easier to create original content with screenshots or screen capture videos than it is to get your hands on retail or ecommerce products.
  • With the work-from-home boom, there’s increased industry demand for SaaS products.

How to find the right affiliate program for you — 5 best practices

Before you explore our list of some of the highest-paying affiliate programs out there, here’s what you should consider:

Niche or topic fit

Determine if the SaaS app matches your blog or social media niche. Does it align with the topics you usually write or make videos about?

If you’re just starting out your social media or blogging journey, you can pivot, but it’s easier to find something that aligns with your existing brand.

High payouts

The more money you make for a single referral, the easier it is to make a living as an affiliate marketer. So high commissions and payouts is something you should definitely prioritize — we’ve only included high-paying options on this list.

A stellar reputation 

You also should consider the product’s customer reputation. You don’t want to tank your own reputation by promoting a bad product.

Check consumer review sites like G2, Trustpilot, and Capterra before you decide to start promoting a product and company.

Brand power and quality of marketing materials

It helps if you’re promoting an “obvious winner” in an industry. People are likely to go do their own research online, even after your recommendation, so a strong brand can often help you make the sale.

Long referral window (cookie lifespan)

The last consideration is the referral window, also known as cookie lifespan. The cookie lifespan is the number of days that a company will still attribute a sale to your original referred visit. 

For example, a company may offer a cookie lifespan of 7 days. So if you send a visitor to the affiliate link and instead of buying instantly they mull it over for a week, you still get the credit for it. 

Even if they visit the website directly or through Google the second time, the cookie remembers you were the first one to send that particular customer their way.

Ideally, you want a cookie duration of at least 30 days, as most people take a while to consider before investing in a SaaS.

Explore the list below of 15+ of the highest-paying affiliate programs. We arranged it by category to help you find a program that matches your niche.

Top SaaS affiliate programs

Below, you can find our top picks for marketing-related SaaS affiliate programs.

1. ActiveCampaign

Even if you’re a regular reader of our blog, you might not know about our affiliate program. On average, our affiliate program members (influencers and bloggers) earn a whopping $1,350 per referral.

Here are some of the most important things any affiliate should consider:

  • Commissions: 20-30% (depending on volume) recurring commission of what your referred customers pay every month. Deal sizes range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year.
  • Cookie lifespan: 90 days; a referred visitor can become a customer three months later and you still get paid.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None — you don’t even need to be an active customer to start promoting ActiveCampaign.
  • Brand reputation: Great — top-rated seller on G2 (4.6/5).

2. SEMrush

SEMrush is one of the leading SEO (search engine optimization) tools on the market. They have a lucrative affiliate program.

They offer a hefty $200 commission for every referred subscription sale, even if it’s the lowest price tier. Plus, they also pay $10 per free trial referred, and $0.01 for each new pre-trial lead.

  • Commissions: $200 per new customer, $10 per free trial, $0.01 per new lead.
  • Cookie lifespan: 120 days; get paid even if referrals take four months to make up their mind.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None; you don’t need to be a paying customer.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.5/5 on G2 Crowd and good ratings on other platforms as well.

3. SocialPilot

SocialPilot is a social media management platform for agencies, SMBs, and enterprises. 

They offer plans ranging from $25 to $127 per month, and you can earn an ongoing 30% cut through their affiliate program.

  • Commissions: 30% recurring on all referred plans.
  • Cookie lifespan: 60 days; get paid up to two months after first visit.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None, it’s free.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.5/5 on G2 Crowd.

4. Frase

Frase is an AI-powered content marketing tool that helps you create better organic content. Their affiliate program offers 33% recurring commissions on all plans you refer (plans start at $45/month).

  • Commissions: 33% recurring on all referred plans.
  • Cookie lifespan: No information available.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: As a general rule of thumb, you need to be a Frase customer to become an affiliate.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.8/5 on G2 Crowd, but only 60 reviews.

If you have a marketing blog, you can promote all these products in your recommended marketing stack.

Customer service SaaS affiliate programs

The following affiliate programs are all related to customer service — perfect if you have a blog on customer experience or loyalty.

5. Freshworks

Freshworks is a SaaS company that offers a CRM solution,a customer service platform, and an omnichannel support desk.

As an affiliate partner, you earn $5 for every lead, and 15% of every deal you refer.

  • Commissions: $5 per lead, and 15% total deal value.
  • Cookie lifespan: 120 days, a 4-month referral period.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Great, 4.6/5 on G2 Crowd and good on other platforms.

6. Zendesk

Zendesk is another customer service platform that includes live chatting tools, help desks, and other AI-powered tools.

While they also target SMBs, they offer enterprise plans with pricing to reflect that; you can earn hefty commissions.

  • Commissions: 10%+ depending on volume.
  • Cookie lifespan: 45 days
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: You can sign up for free if you have a relevant blog or platform.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.2/5 on G2 Crowd.

7. SurveySparrow

SurveySparrow is a survey and customer experience management platform. Its enterprise plan costs $449 per month, and you can earn a recurring commission.

  • Commissions: 25% on plans starting at $149 per month. $500 performance bonus if you generate over $5,000 in sales.
  • Cookie lifespan: 90 days, a 3-month referral period.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Great, 4.5/5 on G2 Crowd.

Hosting and ecommerce platform affiliate programs

The largest category of SaaS affiliate programs revolves around services dedicated to hosting websites and ecommerce stores.

8. Shopify

Shopify offers an affiliate program for its basic ecommerce platform, as well as its platinum package.

  • Commissions: $58 for regular merchant accounts, $2,000 for advanced merchant plans.
  • Cookie lifespan: 30 days; get paid up to a month after first referring a visitor.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.3/5 on G2 Crowd.

One interesting caveat here is that not only does Shopify have an official affiliate program, but many themes and apps on the Shopify marketplace also offer affiliate programs. So there’s an opportunity to earn more money beyond just promoting the Shopify platform itself.

9. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is another major ecommerce platform that offers a great affiliate program. Earn 200% the first monthly payment on plans starting at $29.75, and a flat $1,500 for all enterprise customers.

  • Commissions: One-time fees of 2x monthly fees for regular merchant accounts; $1,500 for enterprise plans.
  • Cookie lifespan: 90 days; get paid up to three months after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.2/5 on G2 Crowd.

10. Wix

Wix is a drag-and-drop website and ecommerce store builder. Earn a flat $100 commission for every new customer you refer to the platform.

  • Commissions: One-time fee of $100 per new customer you refer.
  • Cookie lifespan: 30 days; get paid up to a month after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.2/5 on G2 Crowd.

11. Kinsta

Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting platform with a very competitive affiliate program. Earn up to $500 one-time fee per referral, plus a 10% recurring monthly commission.

  • Commissions: One-time fee of $500 per new customer you refer and 10% recurring commission.
  • Cookie lifespan: 60 days; get paid up to two months after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Great, 4.7/5 on G2 Crowd.

12. Weebly

Weebly is another drag-and-drop website building platform with a renewed focus on ecommerce after being acquired by Square.

It offers an affiliate program through the affiliate network ShareASale (good news, if you’re already an accepted affiliate).

  • Commissions: 30% commission on plans starting at $12/month.
  • Cookie lifespan: 120 days; get paid up to four months after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.2/5 on G2 Crowd.

13. Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders on the web and offers a good affiliate referral program.

  • Commissions: One-time payment of up to $200, depending on the plan your referred customer chooses.
  • Cookie lifespan: 45 days
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 4.4/5 on G2 Crowd.

14. BlueHost

BlueHost is one of the most used hosting providers on the web and has a very popular affiliate program. (If you’ve ever read a blog post about starting a blog, chances are high it included a BlueHost affiliate link.)

  • Commissions: One-time payment of up to $65, even for the cheapest plans.
  • Cookie lifespan: 90 days, up to three months.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Okay, 3.6/5 on G2 Crowd.

15. SiteGround

SiteGround is a web hosting service provider with a slightly better reputation, and an affiliate program with higher potential payouts, depending on the volume. Affiliates also get a month of free hosting to test the service for themselves.

  • Commissions: One-time payment of up to $500 depending on the plan and your referral volume.
  • Cookie lifespan: 60 days; get paid up to two months after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Good, 3.9/5 on G2 Crowd.

16. Bonjoro

Bonjoro is a SaaS tool for sending personalized video messages to your prospects and customers at scale. 

Through the Bonjoro Partner Program, you can earn a 30% recurring commission on referred clients. Bonjoro also offers a flexible commission with payouts through Paypal—no slow and complicated bank transfers.

  • Commissions: 30% recurring on plans of up to $66/user per month.
  • Cookie lifespan: 90 days; get paid up to three months after the last click.
  • Sign-up requirements and fees: None. It’s free to sign up.
  • Brand reputation: Stellar, 4.8/5 on G2 Crowd.

What are the highest-paying affiliate Programs?

SaaS affiliate programs are some of the highest-paying programs available. And it makes sense. SaaS companies often charge monthly recurring fees and their clients can include companies and enterprises, not just consumers.

Since each deal size is much bigger than a single retail purchase, the companies can afford to pay affiliates more. But not all SaaS affiliate programs are created equal — some pay a lot more than others.

Here are the SaaS affiliate programs with the highest payouts:

  • ActiveCampaign, where the average affiliate earns $1,300+ per referral.
  • Shopify offers one-time fees of up to $2,000 for enterprise vendors.
  • BigCommerce offers one-time referral fees of $1,500 for enterprise merchants.
  • SEMrush pays $200 for every sale.
  • Freshworks pays 15% of deal size on plans that cost up to $69/month per agent. For a large, multi-year deal, you could earn thousands of dollars.

What’s the best affiliate program from a SaaS vendor?

After revamping our marketing materials and offering reliable payouts , we believe that ActiveCampaign is the best SaaS affiliate program in 2021.

Of course, our product isn’t for everyone, so it depends on your audience. But if you write or make videos about marketing for building a platform for creatives, our affiliate program is a perfect fit.

Find the right affiliate program for your platform

The best way to earn a living as an affiliate marketer isn’t to just sign up for every program. It’s to focus on a specific niche, actually use the products and become an expert on them, and deliver unique value to your audience.
So read the list carefully, choose a SaaS product that makes sense for your readers, and get to work. (If that product happens to be ours, sign up for our affiliate program here.)