Affiliate marketing has been booming for a couple of years now. And no wonder. For such a simple concept, the potential gains of a well executed affiliate program are massive. And it’s cost effective too. Still though, there are plenty of pitfalls to be avoided. Today we’re going to compare a couple of affiliate marketing tools to help make sure you stay on the right course.
What are Affiliate Marketing Tools?
Affiliate marketing tools perform a few key functions. The central focus is always tracking. You need to keep tabs on how each of your affiliates are performing. If you don’t know who’s driving the most traffic or sales, you’re basically shooting in the dark.
You’ll also want to be able to automate your payments. There’s a couple of things to look out for here. One is reliability. You’re affiliates will want to be payed promptly and correctly. Then there’s flexibility. This means being able to custom tailor your payment structure to suit your particular needs.
Beyond that, there are some fairly common additional tools. For example, this might include some means of providing resources for your affiliates. Here’s a quick overview of our findings for each of the affiliate marketing tools;
|Software||Starting From||Best Thing About It||Biggest Problem|
|ShareASale||$650 one off fee.||Real-time tracking.||High initial cost.|
|Tapfiliate||$69 per month.||Bonus schemes.||No custom domains in cheaper plans.|
|AffiliateWP||$99 annually.||Simplicity.||Not a standalone tool.|
|ClickMeter||$29 per month.||Very Cheap.||Limited events per month.|
|AffTrack||$299 per month.||Customization.||Expensive.|
|Post Affiliate Pro||$97 per month.||Affiliate centered approach.||Additional cost per click.|
You’ll notice a fairly wide range of prices. Does that necessarily translate to different quality options? Not as such. There are definitely options which are better than others in certain contexts though. Let’s go into a little bit more detail.
ShareASale is the only one of today’s affiliate marketing tools which is available for a one-off fee. It’s also the one you’re most likely to have heard of, having been around for quite a while. They’ve managed to hone their offering to include some pretty advanced features too.
First of all, all of the analysis in ShareASale is done in real time. That means you have totally up to date information about every detail of your campaign. This includes when a click occurs, when a sale is made and when you affiliates generate a commission.
One unique feature of ShareASale is ‘Clickstream Attribution’. Basically, this is timestamp data which lets you look at a customers behavior leading up to a sale. That way you can get your affiliates to encourage certain behaviors.
Tapfiliate, by contrast starts at a reasonable enough $69 per month. One slightly novel feature of this platform is the ability to set up bonus schemes. Rather than simply offering a commission for each sale, you can add additional incentives for your affiliates to go above and beyond.
You can even create schemes to reward your affiliates for referring others. This can even include offering them a percentage of the commissions they’ve indirectly caused. You can have unlimited levels of referrals within referrals too.
I also really liked the team member feature. This lets you add an extra account with limited access. Great for growing businesses.
Starting from $99 annually, AffiliateWP is a very interesting option. It’s unique, in that it’s a WordPress plugin. Great if you’re using WordPress. Not much use if not. Indeed, it’s really aimed at the more tech averse. It’s ideal for entrepreneurs or one man operations.
It can be a great time saver too. All of your payout data can be exported to a .CSV. That way you can save time on other admin tasks like bookkeeping. Just one more reason why AffiliateWP could be great for small businesses.
At $29 per month, ClickMeter is the cheapest of today’s affiliate marketing tools. However, f you’re making more than 25,000 affiliate sales per month, you’ll need to upgrade to another plan. That said, ClickMeter is still a perfectly usable tool.
ClickMeter is a really simple and easy to use platform to track your affiliate marketing. You can drill down into specific location, IP addresses or even browsers. There’s also some pretty impressive automatic reporting on offer.
Starting from $299 per month, AffTrack is the other end of the market. As you’d hope at this price, it offers all of the functionality of the other affiliate marketing tools. But there’s some extras which set it apart too.
They claim their analytics has 99.999% up-time, so reliability isn’t a question. AffTrack also offers proxy and fraud detection. That way, you’ll be notified if anything nefarious is going on.
AffTrack’s API is available for users too. This offers you just about unlimited customization and integration, which is great if you have needs that are more specific than an out of the box configuration.
Post Affiliate Pro
Finally, we have Post Affiliate Pro. This one will set you back $97 per month for the basic package. This one has some pretty interesting features too. The first thing to note is ease-of-use. It’s really simple to make mass payouts, generate reports and create map overlays.
Of our affiliate marketing tools, this one is maybe the most centered around the affiliates themselves. One standout feature here is split commissions. This lets you reward all of the affiliates who participate in a sale, not just the one who happens to get the final clickthrough.
In a similar vein, there’s the ability to create performance rewards. This lets you maintain your best affiliates by showing you appreciate their hard work. Lifetime commissions work a similar way. They let you give an affiliate repeat commissions if their customer comes back for more.
Some concluding remarks. I mentioned earlier that more expensive doesn’t always mean better. Or at least no better for you. Saying that, if you’re serious about affiliate marketing at an enterprise or agency level, AffTrack is probably worth it. For the rest of us running small operations, I was really impressed by both Post Affiliate Pro and AffiliateWP.
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