Managing an affiliate program requires juggling a lot of balls. You need a flawless tracking system. You need to be able to stay in touch with your affiliates. You need to have a good backend system for affiliates to log into. You need to know what your competition is running, what they’re paying and how they’re converting. You need to have all these things covered, not just once but on an on going basis.
Having the right tools and services will make your job a lot easier. It’ll reduce headaches, speed up processes and allow you to get things done with as little personal attention as possible.
These are the top 10 tools and services for affiliate program managers.
#1 – 1ShoppingCart
If you’re running a small to medium sized company, 1ShoppingCart can be a fantastic solution for all your affiliate tracking needs.
Affiliate accounts are easy to create. The process can be done by affiliates themselves through a web form, or by the administrator.
Affiliate links are tracked using a built-in system. If you choose to, you can continue to track a user’s cookies and award affiliate sales for sales made down the line.
Payment is not done through 1ShoppingCart. 1ShoppingCart will simply tell you what all your affiliates are owed. You have to come up with a separate payment system yourself.
If you want to create your own network of affiliate programs, Hitpath is one of the best ways to do it. Many of the world’s largest affiliate networks run off of the Hitpath software.
Hitpath allows affiliates to easily generate their own affiliate codes for each product they want to promote. You can even generate tracking IDs for each promotional method (banners, PPC, email, etc.)
Hitpath allows you to easily generate Earnings Per Click (EPC) data for both affiliates and for your network as a whole.
Hitpath is primarily geared towards large affiliate programs and networks rather than small individual programs.
LinkTrust is similar to Hitpath in that it’s an industrial-grade affiliate tracking software. LinkTrust supports pixel tracking, which is arguably the most reliable method for making sure affiliates get credited with their sales.
LinkTrust supports CPA, CPL, CPM and CPC campaigns. No matter what kind of format you want to run your affiliate campaign in, LinkTrust likely has the technology you need to make it happen.
At its core, InfusionSoft is a highly versatile shopping cart. However, one of its prime components is its affiliate tracking software.
InfusionSoft allows you to track customer sales back to unique affiliate IDs. These customers can be treated differently based on who referred the customer.
This allows you to customize your sales for each JV partner or affiliate that you’re doing deals with. In addition to sending online promotions, InfusionSoft also allows you to track and send direct mail pieces, postcards and other offline promotional materials to leads affiliates bring in.
#5) Shopify (with zferral)
Shopify is one of the simplest shopping cart systems on the web. You don’t need a merchant account to get setup with Shopify. That means no Authorize.net, no gateway processing and no bank hassles.
In addition to providing you with a payment gateway, Shopify also provides you with a fantastic looking store through which to sell your products. To top things off, by installing zferral you’ll be able to host and track your own affiliate program.
This is a great solution for startup to medium sized companies.
If you’re running an affiliate program for digital products, Clickbank is one of the best platforms to host that program.
For one, all your tracking is taken care of. Clickbank has a proven affiliate tracking system that works solidly. It also supports Tracking IDs, which allows affiliates to easily track where sales are coming from.
All your payment processing is handled. Affiliates know they’ll get paid on time, because their check comes from a multi-national corporation.
In short, for digital products, Clickbank makes your life very easy.
If you’re selling a digital product and you don’t need access to Clickbank’s base of affiliate marketers, you may very well be better off with PayDotCom.
Unlike Clickbank which pays vendors only once a month, PayDotCom pays you instantly via PayPal. If you make 10 sales today, that’s 10 paychecks you get today.
On the flip side, payments to affiliates are handled by you. PayDotCom will tell you who you have to pay and how much, but there is the little bit of extra hassle of having to do this bit by hand.
That said, it’s often worth the tradeoff in order to get instant payments.
When you’re putting out an affiliate program, you’ll often want to check the market to see what other kinds of programs are out there. You’ll also want to check what kind of payouts other affiliate programs are giving.
One of the best ways to do this research is through an affiliate program search engine. Using this search engine, you can find out exactly what all your competitors are doing, so you can better position your program.
OfferVault is one of the best such search engines.
One of the biggest jobs of affiliate program managers is helping affiliates succeed. Sometimes that can look like giving affiliates template emails and banner ads. At other times, it means letting affiliates know precisely which traffic methods work.
To help your affiliates succeed, it’s often helpful to know how other affiliates in your space are promoting similar products. That’s what WhatRunsWhere will tell you.
As the name suggests, WhatRunsWhere will tell you which of your competitors are running what ads – And where they’re running them on the internet.
You can pass this information along to your affiliates to give them a big leg up in the market.
One of the most important tools for affiliate program managers is the good old autoresponder. It’s an often overlooked tool, but it’s crucial to success.
Why is an autoresponder so important?
Just like you have to build a relationship in order to sell to customers, the same is true of affiliates. A lot of people make the mistake of just giving out affiliate codes and not actually building a relationship with their affiliates.
Make sure you get your affiliates’ email addresses during the signup process. Use an autoresponder to deliver messages, build trust and get them to promote your product.
These are ten of the most important tools and services for affiliate program managers. Leverage the power of these tools to improve your tracking and help your affiliates (and your business) succeed.