Marketers

The Top 5 Affiliate Marketing Partners for Subscription-Based Services

Becky Doles

Family opening a subscription box service.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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.

Content Publishers

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.

Buzzfeed publishes content and monetizes it through affiliate marketing.
Buzzfeed is just one example of a content publisher that has successfully monetized their content. Source: Buzzfeed

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.

Networks (Sub-Affiliates)

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). 

Tapjoy is one example of a mobile affiliate network
Tapjoy is a mobile affiliate network that helps advertisers and app publishers increase revenue together. Source: Tapjoy

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

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.

Fluent is an affiliate network and a technology partner
Some technology partners are also networks, like Fluent. Source: Fluent

Examples of TUNE technology partners: Fluent, SOVRN, RevLifter, Rokt, Appreciate, Siteplug, UpSellit, Cybba, Taboola, and Honey.

Influencers

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.

BrandCycle is an influencer network and platform that works with TUNE
Influencers have been a popular choice to market subscriptions because their platforms can highlight the lifestyle or look a subscription service is going for. Source: BrandCycle

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).

Honey searches the internet for the best coupons
Honey is just one example of a deal and coupon partner that crosses over into technology provider. Source: Honey

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 Ultimate Guide to Partner Marketing blog series, or download the full resource here.

Ready to get started? Request a demo of the TUNE Partner Marketing Platform to see how the right technology can help you achieve your affiliate marketing goals.

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Author
Becky Doles

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.