Harnessing the power of influencers may sound like the latest social media fad. But done right, it’s a scalable, cost-efficient strategy for fueling SaaS growth.

SaaS influencer marketing isn’t about begging macro-influencers with high pricing to hawk your platform to audiences who couldn’t care less. The key is identifying and recruiting true niche software experts (micro-influencers) who already command the ears (and wallets) of your ideal customers. Imagine an army of genuine influencers equipped to authentically explain your solution, actively engage prospects, and drive real sales for your software company in ways your marketing team never could alone.

This guide will show you how to make that vision a reality. We’ll cover:

  • Why influencers are tipped to dominate SaaS marketing
  • How to identify influencers with real expertise and influence in your niche
  • Creative ways to leverage influencers across the customer journey
  • Optimizing partnerships for maximum ROI
  • Tracking results and continually improving your influencer program

Sound enticing? Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to building a SaaS influencer marketing machine.

What is SaaS influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing involves partnering with influencers to promote your brand and products. SaaS influencer marketing refers to collaborating specifically with software experts and thought leaders to promote your software-as-a-service offerings. Rather than solely relying on your own branded channels, you strategically work with niche influencers who have authority, credibility, and engaged audiences in your space.

Influencers create custom content like blog posts, videos, and social media posts on various social media platforms that highlight your SaaS brand and educate their followers on your solution. You provide guidance, assets, and compensation.

saas influencer marketing canva


Compared to content marketing influencers in other niches, ideal SaaS influencers possess specialized knowledge of business software. They can clearly explain and demonstrate how your SaaS works and articulate the tangible user benefits. The goal is leveraging their expertise to build trust and generate interest in your software within their audiences.

Why is SaaS influencer marketing beneficial?

There are several compelling reasons why partnering with influencers can benefit SaaS brands:

Power of trust: Influencers are trusted voices that their niche audiences see as subject matter experts. Recommendations from industry influencers often hold far more weight than direct messaging from unknown brands.

Targeted reach: Influencers provide access to qualified, engaged audiences in your niche that they have already built. You don’t need to spend extensive time and money building your own following.

Influencers market your SaaS for you: While you provide direction, assets, and compensation, they create and distribute branded content on their own platforms. This amplifies your marketing efforts.

More sales and leads: Influencer marketing is proven to directly increase site traffic, generate more high-intent leads, and drive conversions. Partnerships expand your reach.

Brand awareness: Even if some people exposed to influencer content don’t convert immediately, it builds familiarity and trust in your SaaS for future sales.

Diversifies your content mix: When incorporated into the content marketing mix, influencer campaigns can become a significant driver of SaaS growth. Whether your SaaS company serves B2B SaaS problems or any other SaaS product, you can leverage influencer marketing to meet your marketing goals.

slack influencer


How SaaS influencers differ from typical influencers

It’s crucial to understand that SaaS influencers have distinct qualities compared to influencers in other realms, like lifestyle and fashion:

  • SaaS influencers create educational, technical content, not just pretty photos. They are true subject matter experts.
  • Popular platforms include LinkedIn, software blogs/sites, YouTube, forums, and SaaS communities. There’s a lot less emphasis on Instagram and TikTok.
  • In-depth expertise is mandatory. Influencers must possess specific knowledge of software tools and how they benefit users.
  • Content focuses on driving leads and conversions rather than vanity metrics like followers and likes.
  • Longer-term partnerships align better with lengthy, complex B2B sales cycles. One-off campaigns are less common.

These differences mean SaaS brands must use a targeted influencer marketing approach, not generic strategies.

saas influencer marketing asana how-to

SaaS influencer marketing best practices

Influencer marketing won’t automatically equal success. You need to execute campaigns strategically tailored to your SaaS business. The good news is that by following proven best practices, you can optimize your influencer efforts to deliver impressive ROI.

This step-by-step guide covers tangible tips and strategies to maximize the impact of your SaaS influencer initiatives.

1. Set strategic goals for SaaS influencer marketing campaigns

Be clear on what you want to achieve with influencer marketing campaigns. Some potential goals include:

  • Revenue: e.g., generate $50k in revenue attributable to influencers each quarter.
  • Lead generation: e.g., gain 150 marketing-qualified leads per month from influencer content.
  • Brand awareness: e.g., reach 250k relevant people with influencer content this year.
  • Engagement: e.g., achieve 30k clicks and shares of influencer posts.
  • Conversions: e.g., 10% conversion rate from influencer content to sales.

Setting clear key performance indicators (KPIs) allows you to track performance and make data-driven decisions about your influencer marketing strategy over time.

Pro tip: Set goals based on historical benchmarks and data to ensure they are realistic yet ambitious enough to drive growth.

2. Recruit influencers as affiliates to track ROI

All SaaS marketing campaigns need a way to measure real results. Normally, with influencer campaigns, you can only measure reach and awareness, and it’s tough to measure the sales influencers bring in.

But by giving influencers unique affiliate links, you’ll be able to track the leads and sales they drive, and know the true impact of your influencer campaign. Thus, the most effective way to run SaaS influencer marketing campaigns is to bring influencers on board as affiliates, and award them commissions based on the leads and sales they drive for you.

ActiveCampaign SaaS affiliate program 1

Affiliate recruitment gives you several key advantages:

  • Trackable attribution: Provide unique affiliate links and promo codes to definitively tie leads and sales to each influencer.
  • Performance incentives: Commissions motivate influencers to actively and repeatedly promote your software, in order to earn more. This creates long-term promoters of your brand rather than one-off campaigns.
  • Scalability: Easily grow your influencer program by recruiting more affiliates over time.
  • Cost efficiency: You only pay affiliates when they generate concrete leads and sales. This makes influencer affiliate marketing low-risk for your brand, and less expensive than other marketing methods.

Since you’ll be using an affiliate model, you’ll need affiliate software (not your typical influencer software) to run the program and track links and commissions. Affiliate software makes tracking referrals and automating commission payouts simple.

Pro tip: Consider rewarding affiliates with tiered commission rates – the more lifetime sales they drive, the higher their commission rates become.

Check out this guide on SaaS Affiliate Marketing 101 for tips on designing an effective affiliate program tailored for SaaS.

3. Decide what you want in an influencer

Take the time upfront to precisely define your ideal influencer partner profiles:

  • Niche authority: Seek out true experts who create technical, educational pieces of content in your space.
  • Content focus: Consider the formats and platforms each influencer uses and ensure alignment with campaign goals. For instance, would you like to recruit bloggers, social media influencers, website owners, or other types of creators?
  • Audience fit: Guarantee that an influencer’s audience closely matches your target market’s demographics, interests, and pain points.
  • Engagement: Prioritize influencers with highly engaged followers who actively like, share, and comment on content.
  • Audience size: Sheer size is not the priority – a niche yet engaged audience often performs best for SaaS.

Vetting potential influencers thoroughly before recruitment ensures you choose the right influencers positioned to drive results. Do not compromise.

Pro tip: Look beyond follower count and focus on selecting influencers who create content optimized to convert high-intent audiences. Quality over quantity.

4. Find the right influencers that fit your needs

Where do you find these ideal software influencers? You can use various approaches to uncover relevant influencer prospects:

  • Run a LinkedIn search using relevant keywords to identify industry experts with an audience.
  • Use social listening (with brand mention software) to find experts already mentioning your brand or category, or using relevant hashtags for your niche.
  • Participate in software forums and communities where you can connect with influencers.
  • Browse competitors’ affiliate programs for influencers who also may be a fit.
  • Survey your users – you may have customers who create content and who have a trusted voice in the niche you occupy. 
  • Open and promote an application that anyone can fill out. But screen those potential influencers who apply with the same rigorous standards as you use for influencers you reach out to.

Take time to thoroughly research and identify the very best influencers for your brand and goals. 

Pro tip: Consider recruiting micro-influencers – their high engagement rates often outweigh their smaller follower count for SaaS companies. And they’re more affordable.

You can check out this guide on how to find affiliate marketers for 10 effective tactics for recruiting the right partners.

drift influencer referral program

5. Initiate outreach in a personalized, non-salesy way

When contacting prospective influencers:

  • Start by engaging with their content and profiles organically. Like, share, and comment.
  • Warm up the relationship before pitching. Build credibility.
  • Then, reach out in a warm way and invite them to be your influencer (via email or DM).
  • Personalize your pitch. Flattery gets you everywhere. Compliment them and show why you love their content.
  • Focus on what’s in it for the influencer. Explain the benefits of working with you.
  • Make it easy for them to say yes. Don’t use hard-sell tactics.

Building relationships before asking for an affiliate partnership leads to better response rates, and lays the groundwork for productive partnerships when done in a genuine way.

Pro tip: Flatter their expertise, and offer to provide complimentary access to your SaaS product to enable them to try it firsthand before committing.

6. Choose competitive but sustainable commission rates

Most SaaS influencers will expect fair commissions in return for promoting you, especially if you’ve decided to recruit them under the affiliate model.

When setting commission rates:

  • Research typical rates within your industry. You need to offer competitive commissions.
  • Decide whether you’ll pay a flat fee or percentage of each sale.
  • Cash payouts are best. Tools like PayPal allow you to easily pay affiliates globally.
  • Consider paying a small upfront bounty when they drive a qualified lead, then a larger commission when that lead converts to a sale.
  • Determine a commission rate you can profitably sustain long-term based on your finances. Don’t overcommit yourself.
  • Choose how long influencers are eligible for commissions after someone clicks their link (30 days is standard for longer sales processes).
  • Consider a tiered structure where commissions increase at certain milestone volumes, or a bonus structure where affiliates gain a one-time payout if their sales hit a certain threshold in a given period.

The right commission model provides meaningful incentives that motivate the ongoing promotion of your SaaS brand.

Pro tip: Take their audience size and engagement into account when establishing commission rates,  to ensure the partnership will be worthwhile for both parties.

Make sure to check out this detailed guide that provides the 7 steps on Affiliate Marketing Commission Rates.

7. Have influencers sign a contract to align expectations

Before promoting your SaaS, influencers should sign a formal agreement covering:

  • Commission rates and payment structure
  • What they can/can’t say about your product (compliance)
  • Your brand guidelines and assets
  • Terms for ending the partnership
  • Any other legal or compliance topics

A contract protects your SaaS business as well as sets clear expectations for the business relationship. 

Pro tip: Include terms in the agreement that allow you to use any influencer-created content featuring your brand after the official partnership concludes.

8. Educate influencers on your SaaS brand

Don’t just onboard influencers and leave them to their own devices. Actively train them to become experts on your SaaS:

  • Provide a deep product overview so they can intelligently discuss features, benefits, and unique selling points.
  • Walk them through what they can and can’t say about your SaaS.
  • Share brand guidelines, assets, and collateral they can incorporate into their content, plus strategic landing pages that your influencers can direct leads to.
  • Explain your ideal customer profile and buyer journey to appeal to your target audience, including how software can help leads meet their goals.
  • Set expectations for the content creation and promotion cadence.
  • Give them access to a product demo account to experience your software firsthand.

This upfront brand education enables influencers to become authentic advocates.

Pro tip: Maintain an ongoing “expert influencers” training program to continually educate your top partners on new product releases, content strategies, and marketing initiatives.

9. Keep the lines of communication open

Maintain an active, two-way dialogue with your influencers:

  • Check-in regularly, not just when you need something. Build genuine influencer relationships.
  • Ask for their feedback and input to improve your influencer affiliate program.
  • Keep them updated on company news, product launches, etc. that impact their messaging.
  • Be highly responsive to questions via email, chat, or private social media channels.
  • Consider hosting exclusive webinars and social media communities just for your influencer affiliates.

Influencers who feel valued and heard will be more engaged over the long term.

Pro tip: Develop a streamlined process for providing influencers access to exclusive pre-release product demos and content assets so they always have what they need to create compelling promotions.

10. Track ROI and refine your influencer program

With your unique affiliate links, you can easily attribute leads and sales back to each influencer partnership.

Use this data to continually refine your approach:

  • Identify top-performing influencers and invest more into those high-ROI relationships.
  • Prune underperforming partnerships that deliver inadequate results.
  • Test new content formats, promotion strategies, commission models, etc., and double down on what performs.
  • Use past performance to set ambitious yet realistic data-driven goals for improvement.

Ongoing monitoring and optimization are crucial to maximize returns on influencer investments.

Pro tip: Analyze attribution data to identify your most effective influencers. Then, ask them for referrals to other potential influencers with similar audience profiles.

saas influencer case study nordvpn


11. Run your SaaS influencer program with affiliate software

Investing in dedicated affiliate software provides the best infrastructure to manage your influencer program:

  • Affiliate software automates the process of tracking and rewarding affiliates.
  • It also streamlines the process of communicating and building relationships with affiliates.
  • It makes tracking the sales influencers drive easy, thanks to affiliate links.
  • It’s cost-effective, as you pay once for software and then only pay commissions when influencers drive sales.
  • And it gives you full control of your data and all other aspects of running an influencer-affiliate program.

Typical influencer software doesn’t allow for lead and sale tracking with links, and doesn’t accommodate the commission model. So, don’t settle for your traditional influencer marketing platform. Robust affiliate software pays for itself in time and money saved.

How to select the right affiliate software? The software you choose:

  • Should make setting up a program as easy as possible
  • Should have robust affiliate campaign management, tracking and data reporting features
  • Should promote authentic relationships with affiliates – not just transactional relationships
  • Must be able to work with multi-step processes if your sales process is multi-step
  • Must integrate well with your existing sales and marketing processes, including your CRM and other tools
  • Should have exceptional customer service

Referral Rock affiliate marketing software:

  • Is flexible enough to run both affiliate programs and referral programs 
  • Makes designing and building a program easy for any business, even those with multi-step sales processes (no developers needed)
  • Gives your SaaS complete control over their data, communications, and all other aspects of running a program
  • Tracks affiliates’ performance, so you can easily see if you’re meeting KPIs
  • Automates all aspects of running your program, including recurring commission payouts
  • Helps SaaS businesses build relationships with advocates that go beyond just the transaction
  • Comes with a dedicated customer success manager on every plan.

Concluding thoughts

Implementing an end-to-end influencer marketing strategy tailored to SaaS enables brands to tap into this high-impact marketing channel to fuel measurable growth. By taking the time to identify and vet the ideal software influencers for your goals, bringing them on board as affiliates, providing ongoing training and support, and continually monitoring performance,  you can achieve fantastic ROI from influencer investments.

SaaS influencer marketing, when executed strategically, scales as a cost-efficient customer acquisition engine that complements your existing marketing efforts. Focus on quality over quantity, foster genuine relationships with partners, and keep optimizing based on data. This creates a blueprint for long-term influencer marketing success.