This involves brands hiring affiliates to promote their products and services and rewarding them with a commission from each sale.
As such, affiliate marketing is an excellent low-cost and low-risk way for brands to drive sales and brand awareness without hiring their own in-house advertising and marketing team.
Affiliate marketing spending is expected to reach $8.2 billion in the US 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 driving relevant and high-quality traffic to a website with the goal of increasing sales.
As such, both of these marketing activities should not be viewed as two separate, competing entities.
Instead, you should look at them as one and the same, working 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 to 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 promote an authentic user experience that puts their readers first.
This is one of the main advantages of affiliate marketing compared to alternative marketing methods such as sponsored posts.
Today’s consumers are increasingly distancing themselves from strongly business-oriented content, as it is increasingly perceived as inauthentic and insincere.
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 to 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 marketplace, how can brands find 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 did not 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 had to be a one-man show and manage every aspect of affiliate marketing on their own.
Of course, this approach took a significant amount of time, and brands lacked the necessary bandwidth to undertake such an effort. Fortunately, this is no longer the case today.
Therefore, brands must use the right affiliate marketing software to stay competitive and maximize ROI in today’s highly competitive affiliate marketing space.
This article will be about what affiliate marketing software is and what makes a great affiliate software platform.
We will 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 expand 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?
While most affiliate marketing software platforms share many of the same features, what separates the good platforms from the bad is important.
To begin with, the actual platform should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
An affiliate marketing platform can boast all the best affiliate tools and features available.
Still, it’s a sham if the dashboard is complicated for most people.
Additionally, since brands typically use a variety of software as a service (SaaS) platforms for e-commerce and affiliate marketing, affiliate marketing software platforms must 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 have access to real-time granular data to effectively measure the ROI of their affiliate campaigns.
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 commission management and customizable real-time affiliate tracking and reporting capabilities.
At the same time, they must offer their customers peace of mind by providing the highest level of fraud detection and other security features.
Finally, the best affiliate marketing software platforms mean nothing if there isn’t quality customer support available 24/7 to back it up. Readily available customer support is just as 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 customers, Refersion is one of the leading affiliate marketing software platforms on the market.
Its robust and highly personalized dashboard enables brands to manage all aspects of their affiliate program, such as monitoring all aspects of their affiliate activity with extensive real-time reporting capabilities.
Refersion provides brands with all the tools they need to scale and promote their affiliate programs, such as managing commissions, payouts and providing simplified tax automation.
Referral integrates with all the major e-commerce SaaS platforms and has one of the largest marketplaces full of affiliates for brands to discover.
It offers brands peace of mind by offering some of the best fraud detection and security features available.
Finding any significant downsides to such an established affiliate platform is more complicated than it seems.
If we had to pick something, its prices might not be the cheapest compared to some other platforms on this list.
But again, it’s hard to find any affiliate marketing software that offers the top affiliate tools, marketplace, and customer support for $89 a month like Refersion.
Impact is one of the largest affiliate marketing cloud automation software platforms.
The signature Impact Partnership Cloud allows brands to develop automated affiliate or influencer marketing campaigns.
It provides a decent marketplace, marketing tools and analytics for brands to track and manage their affiliate programs.
However, prices are not readily available and require a custom quote.
3. Tap affiliates
For businesses that operate primarily on e-commerce SaaS platforms and generate their revenue, Tapfiliate can be a good choice.
It features an autopilot mode that can automate things like onboarding new affiliates, sharing via social media, or even drip campaigns.
Tapfiliate offers advanced tracking and reporting capabilities, but most of the features are only accessible through the Pro plan, which starts at $149 per month (not the cheapest on the list).
The Essential plan starts at $69 per month.
Featuring an intuitive and highly customizable dashboard, Affise is an excellent choice for agencies that manage multiple affiliate networks at an enterprise level.
It can be accessed via web, cloud or SaaS, and offers good third-party SaaS integration.
One notable feature of Affise is its smart targeting feature that enables audience targeting through criteria such as geolocation, device, language or device connection speed.
Affise also offers robust tracking and reporting capabilities.
Still, the monthly starting price of $499 makes it not that easily accessible for most brands running affiliate programs.
It is better suited for enterprise-level agencies and brands.
Awin, formerly known as Zanox, merged with Affilinet in 2017 to become one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms with over 200,000 marketers and over 15,000 advertisers.
It includes a handful of marketing and reporting features you’d expect from such an extensive network.
However, it lacks some essential affiliate features that you would expect, such as affiliate tracking or fraud detection security.
Registration is free on Awin, but its performance-based pricing model means there is no 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 more than a dozen partners to offer a variety of streamlined and automated features, most notably the live reporting and tracking capabilities that enable brands to optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time.
Cake does not provide pricing on its website and requires a custom quote.
It also doesn’t include any pre-made promotional tools for marketers, which makes it not quite suitable for novice users who are just getting started with their affiliate programs.
7. Click Bank
ClickBank was one of the first affiliate platforms, starting all the way back in 1998. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest affiliate marketplaces with over 200 million customers.
ClickBank offers native support for brands that offer continuous subscription services.
This makes it easy for brands to create repeatable one-click purchases, allowing them to provide monthly products without requiring manual monthly payments.
It also offers some of the standard affiliate features common to most affiliate platforms, such as affiliate reporting, payments, commission management, and third-party integrations.
However, compared to most of the other affiliate platforms on this list, it does not offer a demo, free trial, or monthly pricing.
Instead, ClickBank charges a one-time activation fee 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 offers a customizable dashboard and a variety of reports and specialized tools.
Most importantly, 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 offer a demo or free trial, and pricing is only available via a custom quote.
TUNE allows brands to build, manage and expand 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 offer affiliate promotion tools like most other platforms, and pricing is on the steeper side at $279 per month for the Professional plan and $799 per month for the Enterprise plan.
LeadDyno specializes in affiliate program promotion and offers perhaps the most promotional tools available in an affiliate marketing software platform.
LeadDyno allows brands to create various promotional campaigns such as 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 promotion tools, it lacks some of the more robust affiliate tools that allow brands to manage and optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time like most of the other platforms on this list.
There are also no fraud detection features available.
Still, pricing is on the affordable side, starting at $49 per month for the Starter Plan, $59 per month for the Biz Builder Plan, and $79 per month for the Accelerator Plan.
Great affiliate software solutions allow 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 offer customizable and easy-to-use reporting capabilities that allow brands to track affiliate program performance in real-time.
Because without reliable tracking and reporting tools, brands cannot effectively assess the success and profitability of their affiliate campaigns and partnerships