Affiliate marketing has been experiencing explosive growth in recent years, so it’s essential now more than ever for brands to run affiliate programs of their own.
It involves brands hiring affiliates to promote their products and services and rewarding them with a commission from every sale.
As such, affiliate marketing is an excellent low-cost and low-risk way for brands to drive sales and brand awareness without hiring an in-house advertising and marketing team of their own.
Affiliate marketing spending is projected to reach $8.2 billion in the U.S. alone, up from $5.4 billion in 2017.
Affiliate Marketing And SEO
Affiliate marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) both share a common goal of attracting relevant and high-quality traffic to a site with the goal of increasing sales.
As such, both of these marketing activities shouldn’t be perceived as two separate, competing entities.
Instead, you should look at them as one and the same that work together in perfect harmony to increase website traffic and generate more revenue.
The most successful publishers in the affiliate marketing space combine the two to get the best of both worlds.
SEO affiliate marketing involves choosing the right products and affiliate programs that attract the most search traffic and offer the best commissions.
Publishers often make the most of affiliate marketing by creating content that adds real value for their readers and prioritizes their experience.
Publishers often do this by creating “Best of” or “Top X” oriented posts that address their audience’s needs and pain points, while, at the same time, allowing them to monetize their content by using affiliate links throughout the posts.
By adding relevant and contextual affiliate links in such posts, publishers foster an authentic user experience that puts their readers first.
This is one of the most significant advantages of affiliate marketing compared to alternative marketing methods such as sponsored posts.
Today’s consumers are increasingly distancing themselves from heavily business-oriented content, as it’s increasingly being perceived as inauthentic and disingenuous.
By focusing on high-quality content that adds value to readers and combining it with relevant and contextual affiliate links, everyone wins!
Additionally, Google rewards publishers who create original content and add real value for their readers.
They reward such publishers by placing them higher in search results and driving more traffic to them.
But, in today’s highly competitive and increasingly dynamic market, how can brands find the time to manage and grow their affiliate marketing program?
The answer is with the help of the right affiliate marketing software that streamlines the entire process.
In the early days of affiliate marketing, brands didn’t have the luxury of using affiliate software that gave them all the tools needed to run an affiliate marketing program.
As a result, to run successful affiliate marketing programs in the past, brands often needed to be a one-man show and manage every aspect of affiliate marketing on their own.
Naturally, this approach took a considerable amount of time, and brands did not have the bandwidth necessary to undertake such an endeavor. Thankfully, this is no longer the case today.
Therefore, brands need to utilize the right affiliate marketing software to stay competitive and maximize ROI in today’s highly competitive affiliate marketing space.
This article will go over what affiliate marketing software is and what makes a great affiliate software platform.
We’ll also review the top 10 affiliate marketing software platforms that brands can use to take their affiliate program to the next level.
What Is An Affiliate Marketing Software?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing software is a comprehensive tool that facilitates all aspects of affiliate marketing program management.
It allows brands to track, manage, and grow their affiliate marketing campaigns.
Most affiliate marketing software platforms share standard features such as affiliate onboarding, collaboration with affiliate partners, affiliate tracking and reporting, and referral, cost, and commission payment management.
What Makes A Good Affiliate Marketing Software Platform?
Though most affiliate marketing software platforms share many of the same features, what sets apart the good platforms from the bad is what’s important.
For starters, the actual platform must have an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
An affiliate marketing platform can boast all of the best affiliate tools and features available.
Still, it’s a moot effort if the dashboard is complicated for most people.
Additionally, since brands usually utilize a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms for ecommerce and affiliate marketing, affiliate marketing software platforms need to offer tons of third-party SaaS integrations.
The best affiliate marketing software platforms offer robust tracking and reporting capabilities.
Brands need to be able to precisely track their affiliate sales and access real-time granular data to measure the ROI of their affiliate campaigns effectively.
Additionally, a good affiliate marketing platform will provide brands with all the affiliate tools they need to launch, manage, promote, and scale their affiliate programs, such as flexible commissions management and customizable real-time affiliate tracking and reporting capabilities.
At the same time, they should offer their clients peace of mind by providing the highest level of fraud detection and other security features.
Lastly, the best affiliate marketing software platforms mean nothing if there isn’t quality customer service available 24/7 to back it up. Readily available customer assistance is equally important for brands as it is for affiliates.
Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Software
With over seven years in the affiliate marketing industry and over 20,000 clients, Refersion is one of the leading affiliate marketing software platforms on the market.
Its robust and highly personalized dashboard allows brands to manage all aspects of their affiliate program, such as monitoring all aspects of their affiliate activity with extensive real-time reporting capability.
Refersion offers brands all the tools they need to scale and promote their affiliate programs, such as managing commissions, payouts, and providing simplified tax automation.
Refersion integrates with all the major ecommerce SaaS platforms and features one of the largest marketplaces full of affiliates for brands to discover.
It provides brands with peace of mind by offering some of the best fraud detection and security features available.
Finding any significant cons to such an established affiliate platform is more complicated than it looks.
If we had to choose something, perhaps its pricing isn’t the cheapest compared to a few other platforms on this list.
But then again, it’s hard to find any affiliate marketing software that offers the top-notch affiliate tools, marketplace, and customer service for $89 a month like Refersion does.
Impact is one of the biggest affiliate marketing software platforms for cloud automation.
Its signature Impact Partnership Cloud allows brands to develop automated affiliate or influencer marketing campaigns.
It offers a decent marketplace, marketing tools, and analytics for brands to track and manage their affiliate programs.
However, pricing is not readily available and requires a custom quote.
For businesses primarily operating and generating their revenue on ecommerce SaaS platforms, Tapfiliate may be a great choice.
It features an autopilot mode that can automate things such as onboarding new affiliates, sharing via social media, or even drip campaigns.
Tapfiliate offers advanced tracking and reporting capabilities, but most of the features are accessible only through the Pro plan, which starts at $149 a month (not the cheapest on the list).
The Essential plan starts at $69 a month.
Affise features an intuitive and highly customizable dashboard and is a great choice for agencies that manage multiple affiliate networks on an Enterprise level.
It can be accessed via web, cloud, or SaaS, and offers good third-party SaaS integration.
One standout feature of Affise is its smart targeting function that allows audience targeting via criteria such as geolocation, device, language, or device connection speed.
Affise also offers robust tracking and reporting capabilities.
Still, its monthly starting price of $499 doesn’t make it so readily accessible for most brands running affiliate programs.
It is better suited for Enterprise-level agencies and brands.
Awin, previously known as Zanox, merged with Affilinet in 2017 to become one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms with more than 200,000 marketers and over 15,000 advertisers.
It features a handful of marketing and reporting features you’d expect from such an extensive network.
Though, it doesn’t feature some essential affiliate features you’d expect, such as affiliate tracking or fraud detection security.
Registration is free on Awin, but its performance-based pricing model means that there isn’t a fixed monthly cost to join the platform.
Instead, brands pay a predetermined cost-per-acquisition.
Cake is another affiliate marketing platform available via web, cloud, or SaaS.
Cake partners with over a dozen partners to offer a variety of streamlined and automated features, most notably its live reporting and tracking capabilities that allow brands to optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time.
Cake doesn’t provide pricing on its website and requires a custom quote.
It also doesn’t feature any pre-made promotional tools for marketers, which doesn’t make it quite suitable for novice users just starting out with their affiliate programs.
ClickBank was one of the first affiliate platforms, launching all the way back in 1998. Since then, it’s grown to one of the largest affiliate marketplaces with over 200 million customers.
ClickBank offers native support for brands that offer ongoing subscription services.
It makes it easy for brands to create one-click repeatable purchases, allowing them to provide monthly products without requiring manual monthly payments.
It also offers some of the standard affiliate features commonly found on most affiliate platforms, such as affiliate reporting, payments, commissions management, and third-party integrations.
However, compared to most of the other affiliate platforms on this list, it doesn’t offer a demo, free trial, or monthly pricing.
Instead, ClickBank charges a one-time activation cost and a non-negotiable fee of 7.5% + $1 per sale.
8. CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate offers access to hundreds of markets and brands on one platform. It provides a customizable dashboard and a variety of reports and specialized tools.
Most notably, CJ Affiliates offers specialized tools, such as Deep Link Automation and Product Widgets, that enable brands to improve their affiliate program ROI.
CJ Affiliate also allows brands to boost lead generation by maximizing their partner’s content.
However, it also doesn’t provide a demo or free trial, and pricing is only available via a custom quote.
TUNE allows brands to build, manage, and grow their affiliate partner networks through its proprietary marketing technology.
TUNE offers customizable tools, reporting, commissions, payments, and real-time affiliate tracking and reporting like most other platforms on this list.
However, it doesn’t provide affiliate promotional tools like most other platforms, and pricing is on the steeper side at $279 a month for the Professional plan and $799 a month for the Enterprise plan.
LeadDyno specializes in affiliate program promotion and perhaps offers the most amount of promotional tools available in an affiliate marketing software platform.
LeadDyno allows brands to create various promotional campaigns like email and newsletter campaigns and share them on social media.
It offers extensive tracking and reporting features that allow brands to monitor and optimize their promotional campaigns.
Because LeadDyno specializes in affiliate promotional tools, it lacks some of the more robust affiliate tools that enable brands to manage and optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time, like most of the other platforms on this list.
Also, there are no fraud detection features available.
Still, pricing is on the affordable side, starting at $49 a month for the Starter Plan, $59 a month for the Biz Builder Plan, and $79 a month for the Accelerator Plan.
Great affiliate software solutions enable brands to easily launch affiliate programs and track referrals and sales made by their affiliate partners.
Excellent affiliate marketing software should provide brands with all the tools needed to launch, promote, and grow their affiliate program.
At the same time, they should provide customizable and easy-to-use reporting capabilities that allow brands to track affiliate program performance in real-time.
Because, after all, without reliable tracking and reporting tools, brands cannot effectively assess the success and profitability of their affiliate campaigns and partnerships.
Featured Image: Visual Generation/Shutterstock
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