For subscription-based services, the global pandemic has a silver lining: business is booming. Companies that expanded into the subscription model in 2020 are seeing rapid growth, even in economies where spending has stagnated. And according to a recent survey, 27% of global consumers expect to spend even more money on subscriptions in 2021.
What’s driving this growth? Increased demand — and affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing for subscription-based services is all about working with different kinds of partners to promote your brand to your target audiences. Since it’s based on performance, affiliate marketing is a low-risk, high-reward investment for subscription businesses. And with the variety of affiliates and payment models available today, there’s an effective affiliate marketing strategy for any subscription out there.
Subscription-based services can see big benefits from affiliate marketing, including:
- Direct access to engaged, incentivized, highly qualified audiences
- Expanded reach to new or niche communities
- Predictable incremental growth
- New opportunities to scale
- Cross-channel promotions
- Guaranteed, measurable results
Bringing in the benefits means first bringing in the right affiliate partners to promote a subscription-based service. Here, we present five of the best affiliate partners and traffic sources to help market your subscription in 2021 and beyond.
You know what they say: Content is king.
Great content brings in customers to every industry. It’s a key acquisition channel for just about any product and service.
Think about it: When you want to know about a company or a product, what do you do? You check it out online. Whether you’re researching a product on a review site, reading news about a brand’s latest release, or discovering new obsessions in your news feed, content makes it all possible.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, content partners run the gamut from international media companies to niche publishers. News and entertainment sites like Buzzfeed, forums like Reddit, and review sites like Reviewed.com are all content partners that are perfectly set up to help subscription services succeed.
Some of TUNE’s content partners: Skimlinks, CNET, Penske Media, Vox Media, Ziff Davis, Business Insider, CNN, Digital Trends, iHeartMedia, Business.com, Reviewed.com, and Future plc.
Affiliate networks are actually groups of smaller partners known as sub-affiliates. These sub-affiliates join networks in order to gain access to offers from brands. They then take those offers out into the world, allowing advertisers to expand their marketing efforts beyond their usual audiences.
Networks are a fantastic option for subscription-based services that are looking to scale quickly and efficiently. Many networks specialize in a single type of partner or publisher, like blogs or influencers. Others focus on specific channels, such as mobile apps and mobile web, and there are others that operate based on specific actions, like lead generation.
What network you choose depends on several factors: your brand guidelines (do you advertise with anyone or only work with a certain type of partner?), your target audience (new mothers, high-income world travelers, etc.), and your goals (e.g., sale vs new customer registration).
Networks you can work with through TUNE include: GlobalWide Media, Tapjoy, Prodege, Perform[cb], She Is Media, Aragon Advertiser, Skimlinks, SOVRN, FlexOffers, Fluent, AdAction, DMS, RewardinBox, and MaxBounty.
Technology partners are a diverse group that usually overlap with other partner types, most often networks. These companies enable subscription-based services to use specialized channels to acquire or engage consumers.
For instance, you could work with UpSellit, a technology partner that increases conversions through site abandonment strategies. Or you could partner with Fluent, which specializes in first-party mobile data, to connect with more smartphone users. Other technology companies like SOVRN overlap with content partners to provide monetization tools for both publishers and the advertisers who work with them.
Examples of TUNE technology partners: Fluent, SOVRN, RevLifter, Rokt, Appreciate, Siteplug, UpSellit, Cybba, Taboola, and Honey.
With more people opting to shop online from the safety of their homes, brands have to do everything they can in 2021 to stand out in a digital world crowded with ads and offers.
One way to cut through the noise is to work with an influencer. Influencers can be social media stars, niche bloggers, or community leaders. What they all have in common is a loyal following of engaged consumers. (When people love a service, they talk about it — that’s called word of mouth advertising, and it’s very effective.) Customers who follow a specific influencer will be more likely to trust their recommendations over any review site full of strangers.
Influencers can be individuals, or you can work with groups of them through a network, such as BrandCycle or CLOUTA. What type of influencer you need is up to your specific brand and service. Music streaming services will want to work with someone different than a quarterly fashion box.
TUNE’s influencer-focused partners include Branded Entertainment Network, CLOUTA, BrandCycle, Influencer Interactive, InfluenceLogic, Social Studies, and She Is Media.
Deal and Coupon Partners
Deal and coupon partners incentivize consumers with coupons and discounts. These savings can be applied when signing up for a new service, renewing a yearly subscription, or purchasing a one-time delivery. With these partners, your options are only limited to what you’re willing to offer potential and returning customers.
Usually, these partners either aggregate coupons in one place, like Brad’s Deals and Groupon, or apply savings as consumers search the internet, like Honey (which could also be considered a technology partner — one example of that overlap we mentioned earlier).
Deal and coupon partners you can work with via TUNE: Groupon, Honey, Brad’s Deals, Price.com, GoodRX, Global Savings Group, and Promocodes.com.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Subscription-Based Services
Finding and working with the right affiliates for your subscription service is only one part of running a successful affiliate marketing program. For tips on how to handle the rest of it, check out our blog series and two-page Subscription Services Playbook, or download the full Ultimate Guide to Partner Marketing — 50+ pages of information, insights, and step-by-step instructions for setting up a successful partner program.
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Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.