Perhaps one of the most overlooked marketing techniques is affiliate marketing. Not only can you earn consistent income from your affiliate partner program, but you can also generate plenty of buzz about the products you are offering.
And here is why:
Helpful products are always in demand. Whether in the blogging industry or managing a startup, people will use your products if it helps them. It only makes sense that those same people would want to earn a passive side income from an affiliate program.
Many people who participate in affiliate programs often write blog posts about your product to generate more affiliate sales. This translates to free marketing for your product, including building high-quality backlinks.
Affiliate programs work particularly well with digital startups. This is because the customer doesn’t have to order a physical product to use it. Likewise, it makes it simpler for others to promote your product because it’s readily available in digital form.
The basics of affiliate programs
If you’re unsure about running an affiliate program, here’s a condensed primer to reassure you. An affiliate program lets you invite third-party collaborators (bloggers, publishers, etc..) to help promote your products in exchange for a commission.
Although most affiliate programs have their differences, some core concepts are utilized by most:
Sales-driven commissions. Affiliate marketing lets you be flexible with how you pay others for their efforts to promote your product. You don’t have to pay a commission if there’s no sale. As such, it is extremely cost-effective to maintain an affiliate program. On top of that, it encourages third-party affiliates to invest in their efforts to earn commissions.
On-going commissions. You can choose to pay a strict one-time fee for each new customer, or you can let your affiliates earn commissions on an ongoing basis. E.g., Payout a commission whenever the customer spends a certain amount on your products. Brands like DigitalOcean are famous for using this approach.
Everything else is entirely up to you. The other features you can offer will also depend on the affiliate program platform you’re using. Which also happens to be what this guide is all about.
To help you start your affiliate program, we’ve put together a list of the best affiliate program tools on the market. These tools will help you scale your affiliate program from beginner level to enterprise if necessary. Further, we’re adding plenty of variety, including specific affiliate program tools for WordPress and business website users.
Let’s not waste any time and get to the good parts.
Do you run a SaaS company?
Rewardful offers some of the easiest tools for companies to create their own affiliate program using the Stripe payment gateway.
The platform automates everything from commission management to payouts and refunds. And to top it off, Rewardful has one of the easiest set-up processes out of any affiliate program platform.
Have a Stripe account ready
Create an account
Connect your Stripe account with Rewardful
Create your campaigns from the dashboard
Once the above steps are completed, the snippet you added to your website will enable affiliate management for your product. Rewardful provides a dedicated dashboard for any affiliates that sign up for your program.
This dashboard includes link management, banner ads, payouts, and much more. Since it integrates with Stripe natively, all the payments are tracked and managed automatically.
Pricing starts at $29 per month for the most basic plan, with the option to go Enterprise at roughly $299 per month.
PartnerStack is a well-established all-in-one partnerships platform designed for B2B SaaS businesses to build, manage, and scale their affiliate, reseller, and customer referral programs.
With over 100 integrations and a wide network of high-quality affiliates, PartnerStack makes it easy to grow your program and increase your revenue. Its platform offers a wide range of benefits, including:
Integrations with SFDC, Hubspot, Stripe, and many more
Unique ability to manage affiliate, reseller, and referral partnerships in one place
Tapfiliate is also a snippet-based affiliate program platform. Though, their emphasis leans towards a jack of all trades approach. In other words, Tapfiliate targets explicitly a wide variety of content and website systems. Their affiliate program software can be integrated with Shopify, WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and other well-known platforms.
Here are the key features:
Automated integration with the most popular content management systems.
Customizable dashboard with pre-built workflows, triggers, and affiliate management features.
Affiliates can brand their dashboard.
Custom rules for commissions, including externals like bonuses and rewards.
Works with all major payment gateways.
The plans start at $69 per month, with 0% transaction fees.
Post Affiliate Pro
Post Affiliate Pro is a custom affiliate tracking tool for managing sales, payouts, and affiliate users. It includes an all-in-one dashboard for maintaining your personal affiliate program. Further, you don’t need to have prior technical experience to use this platform. Almost all of the installation steps are completely codeless and thoroughly explained.
The platform covers sales tracking, individual product support, coupons, and commission management. Additionally, Post Affiliate Pro helps to prevent unhappy customers by monitoring potentially faulty transactions; fraud protection.
Each affiliate signing up to promote your products will have their individual designated dashboard. This dashboard includes the necessary tools to create affiliate links, manage payments, and track new leads.
Kiflo specializes in helping brands like yours execute a Partner Relationship Management strategy. At its core, it targets growing businesses that want to take the next step in promoting their product.
Once you feel that your sales follow a linear curve, you can use Kiflo’s extensive PRM tools to boost your long-term exposure. Everything from the affiliate dashboard and custom link management is provided at your disposal.
Furthermore, you can use Kiflo’s unified dashboard to connect with your partners and build long-lasting relationships. Your partners are likely to be your product users themselves.
WP Affiliate Manager
WordPress is a powerhouse of a content management system. Initially infamous for the best blogging functionality – WordPress is now seen to power media sites, SaaS startups, business platforms, and eCommerce stores. If you run your business or startups from WordPress, WP Affiliate Manager will be a godsend.
This plugin is designed to integrate with your existing product management software and then let you invite affiliates to become a part of your program. Existing supported platforms include WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, WP eStore, S2Member, and many others.
And because it’s WordPress-based, you get that traditional easy-to-follow workflow environment. This tool uses your existing WordPress information to generate user dashboards and provide convenient affiliate management features.
In the early 2000s, Commission Junction was known for its notorious reputation in the affiliate marketing sphere. Almost all digital marketers at the time used Commission Junction specifically since it had the largest available pool of products to promote. These days, CJ Affiliate is focusing on both helping Advertisers as well as Publishers.
Unlike standalone affiliate software, CJ provides exciting benefits for getting your affiliate program off the ground. First, the Advertiser feature lets you list all your products in a single dashboard. From there on, you can specify the smallest details about the product or service you’re trying to market.
And second, CJ is also a platform for Publishers. This results in a convenient way for you to immediately attract new affiliate partners. CJ’s Publisher board lists all available products for promotion. And the audience is diverse enough that there’s always someone looking for a product in a specific category.
ShareASale also goes back to the early 2000s. The platform has survived many different changes in the marketing field but remains a solid choice for anyone looking to promote their product using an affiliate system.
The key advantage of ShareASale is that it’s a highly well-known platform. Even famous brands like Awesome Motive are using ShareASale to manage their affiliate needs.
Part of it has to do with the fact that ShareASale makes it easy for publishers. Anyone can promote a product and earn affiliate commissions very efficiently. Their payment history is solid, making it an easy choice for affiliate promoters.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s also about partnerships – the people who make it possible for you to earn more long-term revenue. Impact Engage is a platform designed to help you keep an open line with all of your partners.
You’ll see which partners are performing exceptionally well by having access to detailed reports. And, if you’re satisfied enough, you can offer them special deals and better commission rates for their hard work.
Voluum is an all-in-one advertising tracker for your business. With this tool, you can do more than manage your affiliate programs.
As an example:
You can track your advertising campaigns on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others.
Put your data to the test by analyzing it for patterns and other insights.
Get actionable advice to improve your next campaign’s overall performance.
Track your affiliate purchases and their origins. Find out who has the most significant impact on your sales and capitalize on it.
If you already have an established medium-to-enterprise business, Voluum is one tool that will give you a statistical edge over your competition.
CAKE is a performance-based marketing tool for managing leads, optimizing multi-channel strategy, and fostering partner relationships. It is best used for an existing affiliate system in-house. And it will be beneficial to collect quantitative data to optimize your affiliate performance.
Although it might initially seem complex, learning CAKE is easy, as most of its features are intuitive. You can generate reports, track specific partners, or send out promotions using nothing but provided tools within your dashboard.
Refersion is an all-inclusive affiliate marketing platform that helps you to create an affiliate system for your product. But also lends a hand in attracting new partners. All Refersion customers access a special marketplace where more than 5,000 publishers seek new products to promote.
This affiliate platform tool will work extremely well with eCommerce store owners. E.g., You have a Shopify store, and you’re looking to expand your business. Refersion has seamless integrations both for Shopify but also WooCommerce and other popular eCommerce platforms.
WordPress is, without a doubt, one of the easiest-to-use website management platforms. And, for many, the idea of switching to another solution is out of the question. If you love WordPress and want to manage your affiliates from within the main dashboard, we’ve got some good news.
AffiliateWP is a WordPress-first affiliate marketing management plugin to help you earn more. Since you’re already publishing your products using WordPress, using AffiliateWP will be extremely straightforward.
You start by doing a basic installation and specifying specific rules for your affiliate program. Afterward, you’ll be able to add an Affiliate Program page to your website. This page will serve as a means for your new partners to sign-up and receive their affiliate links.
Likewise, your partners can track their progress and request payment withdrawals once past a certain threshold. As the administrator of your affiliate program, you can choose to provide custom banners or other advertising options. Your partners will then have direct access to those resources.
If you already know how easy WordPress is, then the AffiliateWP plugin is no exception to the same trend. It’s easy to understand, very flexible, and lets you perform as much customization as you like.
EasyAffiliate is an all-in-one plugin for WordPress that helps you create a self-hosted affiliate program for eCommerce stores or WordPress sites within minutes.
Grow your sales with an affiliate dashboard, real-time reports, fraud detection, eCommerce integrations, email marketing, one-click payouts, and no transaction fees. The setup is super simple – no tinkering with the database or special scripts.
WordPress Customizer helps in adjusting the pre-styled dashboard to fit the brand. Furthermore, the dashboard gives easy access to your affiliates to edit the account information, monitor the status, view payment history, and download their banners and links.
Everything is there in the WordPress admin to run the affiliate program more conveniently and securely. It is a secure plugin you can trust to track every commission accurately and protect it from various attacks. Easy Affiliate also helps in creating custom tracking links. With the support of Pretty Links, your links look great and short.
Easy Affiliate integrates with email marketing service providers like ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and MailChimp to enhance your email marketing. It provides a full-featured platform to manage banners and links so that you know your affiliate marketing strategy is on point.
For secure payments, it supports PayPal. You will also find it easy to upgrade to Easy Affiliate from AffiliateRoyale in a single click and access all the information quickly.
Its price starts from $99.50/year for a single site.
Starting an affiliate program isn’t hard. If you have a solid product to sell, the chances are that there’s someone out there who would like to help you promote that product. And the benefits of doing so are invaluable.
Depending on your product/business size, you’ll need to consider and weigh your options for the best affiliate marketing platform.
This guide of affiliate marketing tools should have enough diversity to cover your needs in small businesses and enterprises.
Alex Ivanovs is an experienced Digital Marketing specialist. His work is featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, TheNextWeb, Huffington Post, and other thought-leading platforms. When not actively writing on tech, he can be found sharing… read more
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