Intro to Referral Partner Commission Programs

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Established businesses can expand their marketing reach by leveraging the power of partnerships. A referral partner commission program defines the business process and agreements in which the business pays a commission to referral partners for bringing in leads and sales. 

The Keap Referral Partner feature includes tools to help enroll, equip, and track referral partners who promote and sell your business's products and services. The commissions apply to products and subscriptions that you sell through Keap. It works hand-in-hand with Keap's CRM and E-Commerce components to track referrals and commissions.

How does a referral partner commission program work? 

Keap tracks referrals to your business and which referral partner they came from so that you can pay your referral partners a commission. To start, you would define how you want to pay your referral partners; e.g., by lead capture, percentage of sale, or a set dollar amount per sale. Then, create tracking links for each of your referral partners. Next, create custom emails, banners, and sites (marketing materials) for your referral partners and upload them to your Referral Partner Center. Then, your referral partners would access your custom marketing materials in the Referral Partner Center and share promotional links via web sites, banners, and emails. They market your business! When people clicks those links to get to your business site, a tracking cookie is added to their computer. These people are now referrals who become leads when they sign up as a contact in your web form. Referrals and leads can then become customers when they purchase from your site or shopping cart. Tracking cookies indicate which referral partner the leads and sales came from so that you know who to pay commission. Finally, run reports to identify which referral partners to pay and how much.

This 3 minute video introduces the concept of referral partners and an example of a business with a multi-tiered commission program that rewards partners at different rates.


If you give referral partners good marketing materials you are more likely to get the business results that you want. 

Is your company ready for a referral partner program?

It’s important that your company is ready before you implement a referral partner program. This is because the new program will likely bring growth to your company and you want to be able to convert those leads to sales and fulfill the sales requests that you receive. 

If you answer yes to the following questions, your company is likely ready for a referral partner program. 

  1. Is your business established and do you have a product or service that is generating excitement and demand? Consider what your current customers have to say about your business. Is your product buzzing on social media?
  2. Do you currently promote a method for customers to refer others to your business? 

  3. Have you decided on what product, service, or subscription that you want to promote with a referral program? 

  4. Have you drafted how you want to communicate your offerings? For example, promotional banners, email marketing, and landing pages. 

  5. Do you know who will become your best promoters? Do you have a plan for continuously meeting and recruiting them?

  6. It’s important to articulate the value of your products and services. Are you ready and able to convey that with potential referral partners? 

  7. Are you able to describe what your promoter’s best prospects (your ideal customers) look like and where and how to find them? This information is key to your referral partner’s success. 

  8. Have you defined both an intrinsic and extrinsic reward for your referral partners?

  9. Remember, if you plan to pay commissions, orders must be placed through Keap. Is this how your business is already set up? 

If you are ready, check out this article to get started

Terms & Definitions

Here are some terms that may be helpful as you learn about referral partner commission programs. 

A person or organization officially attached to a larger body. See referral partner.

An income payment; either a percentage of a product or service sale price or a specific monetary amount per sale.

Commission override
A deliberate action to modify an existing product or subscription commission for a specific referral partner. 

Commission Program
The payment structure for a specific group of partners (affiliates). Keap tracks affiliate-generated sales and automatically calculates commissions based on the programs you set up.

Multi Level Marketing (MLM)
A tiered structure that encourages partners to recruit other partners for your program. The parent partner receives commission for sales made by the people they recruit.

Payout Type (Amount / Percent)
In Keap, you can set the payout type for referral partners to a flat monetary amount, a percentage of the sale, or both.

Payout Type (Lead/Sale)
Keap calculates referral commissions a sale takes place. If your referral partners drive leads to a direct sales team, you may want Keap to also calculate a commission for the partner who referred the lead.

Priority Number
In Keap, the priority number defines which commission program takes precedence if a referral partner is enrolled in more than one program.

Referral Partner
A person or organization that helps to extend your marketing reach in return for a commission. See affiliate.

Referral Partner Center
An affiliate website where business owners upload marketing materials and referral partners sign in to access those materials (tracking links, email templates, and website banners. Referral partners can also view their tracking statistics; e.g., link clicks, opt-ins, and sales.

Referral partner code
Part of a tracking link; used to identify the web page the tracking link is pointing to.

Referral partner reports
Keap provides reports to help you manage your referral partner program. 

Referral partner signup campaign
An automated process to register referral partners into your referral partner commission program typically with a web form on a landing page. 

Referral partner sign-up form
A form used to register as a referral partner in a referral partner program.

Referral partner tracking
By default, Keap identifies referral partners with a tracking cookie on referral computers.

Referral tracking link
A link that referral partners use in emails and banners to drive traffic to a business’s websites, landing pages, and order forms. The link includes a code that tracks which partner sent the lead to the business. 

An automated payment option for goods or services that typically recurs monthly or quarterly.

Tracking link
A link that identifies the referral partner who sent a customer to a business.

Keap Academy

For more on this topic, check out this training from Keap Academy. Learn at your own-pace as experts walkthrough the set up and application of these features with context and strategic insight.

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