098: Creating an effective affiliate program for a membership – with Brady Cassidy

Brady Cassidy is the Co-founder of Rewardful, a platform that allows SaaS companies and memberships to set up an affiliate program. In this episode, he joins Ward to discuss what are the best practices to set up this type of program.

✍️ Show Notes

📄 Show Transcript

This transcript is computer generated, please excuse any errors 🙂

Ward Sandler: Welcome everyone today. I’m talking to Brady Cassidy, the co-founder of Rewardful a platform that allows SaaS companies and memberships to set up an affiliate and referral program. He previously helped build three venture funded startups, leading growth and product from the first dollar in revenue to post series A and generated over a hundred million in market value. Brady, welcome to the Membership Maker podcast. It’s great to have you here!

Brady Cassidy: Thanks for having me.

Ward Sandler: Sure thing. All right. So what are some best practices on launching a successful affiliate program? Because I assume there’s a lot of ways to do it. There may be some basic, here’s the standard way to do it. And then there’s maybe some strange or different, unique ways that it work too. But what are, what would you say are the best practices?

Brady Cassidy: Yeah, so the first thing that I typically recommend, so a lot of people come to us with a preconceived notion of what type of program they want to set up, you know, and sometimes it’s not the best type of program for the stage of business and the industry they’re in, for a ride for factors. So the first thing is like deciding and figuring out like which type of program you want to run. So we like to break into four different groups. So affiliate programs, customer referral programs, influencer programs, and partner programs. As an example, if you’re, if you’re brand new to starting on your membership site and say you have no members yet, or you have five members introducing like a customer referral program, you know, in less one of those first five members are quite influential themselves. It’s going to be pretty incremental. It’s not going to provide you with probably massive returns until you grow that customer base a little bit. And so you’re probably better off in that situation to start with more like an affiliate program and using external affiliates to promote your membership. So understanding which of those is the best fit for, the stage of your business is, is kind of the first and single most important step before you even get started. And also like just before we go into too much more stuff, it’s important to understand that the channel’s not set it and forget it, you know, spit spin up a customer referral program and it starts printing money. In some cases we have seen that happen, but you know, it’s kind of a lottery. If you’re running it that way, it’s important to be very proactive about the channel. You sort of get out what you put in, like most things. Once you start the program and start to set it up, it’s important to set up like a landing page, to explain what the, what the program’s all about and get people excited about it. It sets expectations of what the program is going to involve, who it’s for. What the terms are upfront and then sending strong terms of service, so that people aren’t gaming the system. So in your terms of service, you’ll want to include things like, no self-referrals, you may want to not allow people to do certain types of like pay-per-click advertising, especially around like your branded terms. And we don’t want people, piggybacking off people that would have already come to you anyway. We do monitor some of that stuff to help with the bad actors and stuff, but that’s something we definitely want to put in place. And then you want to set up your program initially for like inbound signups. So there’s a lot of things there. You’d want to probably add a link in your footer to that landing page that I just said. You probably want to include it in your email signatures that go out to your customers. And we included in like all of our transactional emails, like receipts, things like that. But also just in like your email signatures is like really helpful to get people, to discover it as you’re communicating with people both internally and externally, um, And then they, you know, just promote it, promoting it through your different channels that you, you do a lot of your marketing through. It’s really helpful because rather than trying to like acquire one by one customer, essentially acquiring one affiliate can provide you with 10 customers. And so they essentially become like an amplifier of your efforts. And especially if you don’t have like a big team behind your membership you can essentially create this sales army, without the overhead or costs of like hiring a sales team or marketing team, to promote your business.

Ward Sandler: Yeah. A 100%. And depending on what the affiliate payout you choose, does it go back to our 30% example, which is probably on the higher end? But if you do a 30% payout, right? So if your membership’s a hundred dollars a month, and someone refers you that means you’d be paying. Your affiliate 30% of that, a hundred dollars, $30 each month. So you get a hundred dollars, you get very into your affiliate and you net 70, which is still good. Cause in theory, that person would not have come to you at all without the affiliates. And you would have had zero. So 70 is better than zero. And that 30%, as an example is pretty high. Like that’s even for like, if you were to hire a salesperson pink, 30% on anything that they sell is considered a pretty darn high commission. So it’s a real incentive and for the folks out there. Yeah. That would be your affiliates if like you said, if you’re lucky enough to get a few that are influential, that have an audience that have you have a sales background, you know, maybe do a lot of social media posting. If you can get those folks to get behind you and really try to push the affiliate program and in a healthy way. We’re not talking about scammers, but in a healthy way, it can make a huge difference. Not just traffic around, she’s looking for traffic, but in terms of actual sign-ups, right? Because in theory, people that they’re talking to about your membership or your program trust this person, and like we talked about earlier, it’s going to lead to kind of social proof and validation that, oh yeah, Let me give this thing a try. It seems legit. But to go back to your other, your other question about, or not question your other statement about having a landing page and potentially including this in your email sequences and in your footer, it sounds like the general theme is make the affiliate program, make it obvious that you have an affiliate program. Step one, don’t make it some hidden, obscure link somewhere on your website. Put it out there because again, it’s essentially a guaranteed ROI. There’s no real downside to someone becoming an affiliate. Even if they don’t send anyone your way doesn’t hurt you. It doesn’t cost you anything. So put it out there, make sure it’s super obvious, right? Also, try to help people be successful as affiliate. So you had mentioned not just set it and forget it. So could you give maybe a few more quickly as some examples of what people should be, how I should be instructing, like affiliates to be successful? What are some best practices you recommend?

Brady Cassidy: Yeah for sure. So, one of the best things you can do is to connect like an email service. And you should like onboard your affiliates the same way you would onboard new customers. So, once they stamped your affiliate program, you might want to send them a welcome email, get them excited, alk about the terms, things like that. Then you might want to send another message that talks about, different ways to promote you. So seeding ideas on different ways from all you might recommend to write certain blog posts, you might recommend you, you know, your audience best, you know, where they hang out. And you know, you can recommend for them to tap up into those different channels, create the type of content that your audience likes to consume. And what’s really helpful about that is it reduces the creative friction for your affiliates and see in seeds is ideas rather than just providing them with a link and saying, Hey, promote us. Providing those ideas is super helpful. Anything you can do to reduce that friction is helpful. And then what we’ve also seen is like really helpful to provide your affiliates with content and information. That’s, that’s not purely transactional, so it’s not like sign up, use them as like an army to amplify your content. So if you’re a PR, you know, if you do like a blog post, if you do a podcast like this, you know, get them to promote that. And, and, you know, they’re putting more touch points out there with their audience, which keep learning and coming back to you. So it’s helpful to provide them with those resources.

Ward Sandler: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. We all really appreciate it. Where should the audience go to learn more about your work?

Brady Cassidy: Yeah, thanks for having me. You can find us www.getrewardful.com. And I’m more than happy to connect on, on LinkedIn or Twitter or wherever at @BradyCassidy.

Ward Sandler: Great. Thanks again, Brady.

Brady Cassidy: Thanks Ward!