Every company that has an affiliate program should use affiliate software. This tool enables businesses to manage affiliate programs, collaborate with affiliate partners, measure results, control costs, and much more. Even though it’s possible to manage an affiliate program manually, doing so becomes a challenge if there are ten or more affiliates on board.
We believe companies can benefit from implementing affiliate software. That’s why we’ve created this guide – to help you decide whether or not affiliate software is something for you and, if so, to support you with choosing the best possible tool.
Running affiliate programs with affiliate software
As already mentioned, companies can use affiliate software to manage affiliate programs and optimize operations around them. Managing affiliate programs can mean many different things and include various tasks, some of them relatively complex. Fortunately, affiliate software enables affiliate managers to monitor and measure the results of their affiliates’ activities, track sales statistics, monitor commission payments, control the type of traffic that affiliates generate, and prevent fraud.
One of the most essential features of affiliate software is tracking. That’s why sometimes affiliate software is called affiliate tracking software. This software provides all the stakeholders with the necessary tools to generate and assign links to affiliates, track links back to them after sales, and establish the commission that each affiliate should receive.
As such, you need to use a very reliable tracking software. Affiliate marketers don’t promote products for fun – they do so to earn money. That’s why calculating commissions and payments must be seamless and error-free. Otherwise, program owners may lose affiliates’ trust, which could demotivate them from proactively promoting products or services.
Other features that affiliate software solutions should provide include customized affiliate links, resource repositories, and fraud detection. Let’s have a closer look at affiliate software features, their descriptions, and the benefits they can provide.
Features to look for in affiliate marketing software
Our list of affiliate software features will help you make up your mind about whether or not you need this kind of a solution and, if so, which features are a must-have for your business model.
Different types of commission (including multi-tier)
Affiliate marketing software should enable you to set different commission types for different affiliates within one program. You may have a preferred commission type, but in the end, it’s best to offer affiliates the possibility to choose their billing method of choice. What’s more, individual campaigns within one affiliate program may have various goals.
So even if most of your programs are based on pay-per-sale, at some point, you will need to introduce a different commission type. For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to run an affiliate program focused on generating traffic and offering a pay-per-sale commission. Affiliate software should give you the flexibility to pay affiliates based on revenue threshold, types of purchases, the number of sales, or the number of clicks, etc. Affiliate software should also enable recurring, lifetime, or performance-based commissions.
Security and fraud detection in affiliate software
When choosing an affiliate software, pay special attention to the level of security it provides. Check whether your service provider uses their own servers or relies on third-party providers. The former option is much safer than the latter, making your data secure and the system more stable.
Affiliate software should also prevent affiliate marketers from doing fraudulent activities. Systems should control all operations within the affiliate program in real-time, monitor sources of traffic and numbers of clicks, as well as flag all suspicious activities, or even ban affiliates for unacceptable behavior.
Managing many affiliate programs from one account
This feature may not come off as important for companies that are just starting out with affiliate programs, but it becomes necessary over time. That’s why you should remember to choose affiliate software that gives you the option to run multiple, unrelated affiliate programs from one account. It’s convenient and cost-effective to be able to manage your programs this way.
Different types of affiliate tracking
Affiliate software usually enables tracking affiliates’ activity through cookies. However, this method has some drawbacks. If a buyer who clicked on an affiliate link and purchased a product clears their cookies, you won’t be able to determine the source of the click and thus pay commission to the affiliate who brought that buyer to your website. As such, it’s best to use affiliate software that offers different types of affiliate tracking. Look for solutions that provide flash cookies and IP address tracking.
Easy implementation and setup process
It’s vital to choose affiliate software that has an easy implementation and setup process. Such solutions shouldn’t require installing any additional software, plug-ins, or tools. Ideally, they should work as web apps available through browsers with the option to download a desktop version. If affiliate software setup doesn’t require your tech department or any person with HTML knowledge, it means that you made a good choice.
It’s worth adding that, in many cases, software that requires lots of implementation usually turns out to be hard to navigate and complicated to use daily.
Affiliate software should provide a clean and user-friendly interface that you can use right away without any training. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the interface must be simple and include only a few metrics; quite the opposite. A reliable dashboard should enable you to customize it, execute mass payments in a few clicks, plus move through various programs without having to log out and in again.
This feature is usually underestimated by many affiliate program owners choosing affiliate software. However, over time, as the number of affiliates grows, having a library of available branded resources is useful and guarantees hours of saved time.
It’s a form of database available for all affiliates in which you store marketing materials that affiliates can use to promote your products or services. It’s best to keep various marketing assets from product descriptions through photos, coupons, banners, and ads; to flash, HTML, lightbox, and text link banners.
Suppose you pay attention to the quality of materials shared on behalf of your company, and we believe that you do. In that case, an affiliate resources repository is a feature to look for.
While choosing an affiliate software, pay attention to the integrations it provides. Check what payment gateways or shopping cart solutions it easily connects with, what e-commerce platforms it works with, and whether or not you can integrate it with customer support software, customer relationship software, and email marketing solutions.
Mobile versions of affiliate software
It’s convenient if the affiliate software solution you use offers a mobile application. First, this will make it easy for you to access all performance data and manage affiliate programs on the go without computer access. What’s more, it’s also handy for affiliates to sign in to the system via mobile.
Before you decide which affiliate software to use, make sure it offers excellent multilingual support. Without it, you may be left alone with technical issues related to either implementing affiliate software or solving problems that occur during your or your affiliates’ daily operations. It’s best to choose a solution that provides 24/7 support through a help desk, phone calls, or live chat. It’s even better if the affiliate software provider offers a form or self-service customer support through a knowledge base.
As you may see, affiliate software brings many possibilities to companies that use these kinds of solutions. They help businesses save time and money by limiting tedious, manual work related to running affiliate programs, eliminate human error, and help build trust between merchants and affiliates.
That’s why investment in affiliate software is worthwhile for most companies that run such programs. Without a dedicated tech solution, it’s almost impossible to scale and expand affiliate marketing operations effectively. We hope this guide will help you choose affiliate software that meets all of your needs.