Getting the word out about your product is arguably the most important and the most difficult aspect of digital marketing. Even though there are many great techniques for promoting your product online, it can seem daunting to get your rhythm going.
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 you’re in the blogging industry or managing a startup, people are going to use your products if it helps them. It only makes sense that those same people would want to earn 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 what it entails to run 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. If there’s no sale, you don’t have to pay out a commission. 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 on-going 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 kind of other features you can offer will also depend on the affiliate program platform that you’re using. Which also happens to be what this guide is all about.
To help you start your own 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 things like 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 $19 per month for the most basic plan, with the option to go Enterprise at roughly $299 per month.
Tapfiliate also a snippet-based affiliate program platform. Though, their emphasis leans towards a jack of all trades approach. In other words, Tapfiliate specifically targets 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 own dashboard.
- Custom rules for commissions, including externals like bonuses and rewards.
- Works with all major payment gateways.
The plans start at $69 per month, and there are 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 the prior technical experience to use this platform. Almost all of the installation steps are completely codeless and thoroughly explained.
The platform itself covers areas like 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 all of the necessary tools to create affiliate links, manage payments, and track any new leads.
Kiflo specializes in helping brands like yours to execute a Partner Relationship Management strategy. At its core, it targets growing businesses who would like to take the next step in promoting their product.
Once you feel that your sales are following 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. At the end of the day, your partners are likely to be your product users themselves.
WP Affiliate Manager
WordPress is a powerhouse of a content management system. Originally 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, then WP Affiliate Manager is going to be a godsend for you.
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 a standalone affiliate software, CJ provides some interesting benefits for getting your affiliate program off the ground. First, the Advertiser feature lets you list all your products into a single dashboard. From there on, you can specify even the most minuscule of details about your product or service that 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 an extremely well-known platform. Even popular 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 in a very efficient manner. Their payment history is solid, which further makes it an easy choice for affiliate promoters.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s also about partnerships – the people that make it possible for you to earn more revenue long-term. Impact Engage is a platform designed to help you keep an open line with all of your partners.
By having access to detailed reports, you’ll see which partners are performing exceptionally well. And, if you’re satisfied enough, you can offer them special deals and better commission rates for their hard work.
Generally, you’d do this on a gut feeling or out of the good heart. Instead, Impact helps you make decisions based on data. You might even avoid leaving out those partners who’re doing better than you’d expected.
Voluum is an all-in-one advertising tracker for your business. With this tool, you can do more than just 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 is having the biggest impact on your sales and capitalize on it.
If you have an established medium-to-enterprise business already – Voluum is one of those tools that’s going to 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 seem complex at first, 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 get access to a special marketplace where more than 5,000 publishers are looking for new products to promote.
On top of that, you’ll find plenty of informative guides and videos on how to market your product through affiliate marketing.
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 out there. 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 is going to be extremely straightforward.
You start by doing a basic installation and specifying certain 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 will be able to 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.
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 the size of your product/business, 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 both in small businesses and enterprises alike.