In this episode of SaaS Connect by Cloud Software Association, Erik Harbison, Chief Marketing Officer at AWeber Communications, Inc. at the time of this presentation and now Co-Founder and President at The Marketing Help, shares lessons from 15 years of driving growth through affiliate programs.

Aweber is an email service provider started in 1998 with three people. It was one of the first of its kind on the market. At the time of this presentation, it had grown to 220 employees. Its affiliate program was born out of its customers being super passionate about finding success using the tool.

Here’s the backdrop for the show: Aweber’s affiliate program took off robustly and then simmered down due to lack of nurturing. Mistakenly, they believed that it would grow organically. That was lesson number one learned.

Erik Harbison shares other lessons learned:

  • The framework that allowed Aweber’s affiliate program to scale: step one was to create a great product; step two was to provide support for everyone; step three was education in the form of content marketing and inbound marketing. These three areas together created a very passionate customer base that resulted in the in-house affiliate program.
  • Lessons learned over 15 years:
    • In real life (face-to-face encounters) is more valuable than email (so do take advantage of in-person activities).
    • Growth requires investment into hiring a dedicated team member to nurture the program.
    • Educate and nurture the ripest of the 80%.
    • Remarkable experiences create the strongest advocates.


Resources Mentioned:


Please note: this presentation was from a 2018 SaaS conference.



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