Affiliate marketing is a powerful marketing technique for brands to put their name out there and rouse the audience’s attention. Additionally, brands can save more on paid advertising, as affiliate partners fulfill the job of spreading the word to their respective audiences.
The ideal affiliate marketing program is easy to visualize. Challenges arise in the execution. Which affiliate marketing program is most suitable for your brand’s needs? What tools and features will enhance the affiliate marketing experience?
We reviewed and compared the top affiliate marketing programs today to determine which options offer the best features for brands aspiring to elevate their marketing approach. From beginner-friendly to niche and concise programs, we have an affiliate marketing program just for you.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing arrangement involving an affiliate promoting a brand’s products and/or services, and receiving a commission for their generated sales. Blogging and publishing YouTube videos are prime examples of promoting affiliate products.
Affiliate marketing is made possible through shareable affiliate links. When a prospective customer clicks on the affiliate link, it generates traffic toward the brand’s website. When a customer makes a successful purchase with the affiliate link, the affiliate earns a commission.
The Best 8 Affiliate Marketing Programs to Elevate Your Brand in 2023
- Best Overall: Commission Junction
- Best for Beginners: ClickBank
- Best Customization and Integration: TUNE
- Best Accelerated Payments: Awin
- Best for Subscription Boxes and Products: Apogee
- Best for Content Creators: Amazon Associates
- Best for Partner Management: Impact(.)com
- Best for Premium Brands: FlexOffers
|Diverse marketplace of big and small merchants
|Merchants can take quite a while to respond to affiliate applications
|In-house affiliate marketing tools for easy campaign optimization
|Established influencers and content creators are preferred over most affiliates
|Real-time reporting and performance tracking of affiliate programs
|Free and easy onboarding
CJ Affiliate, also known as Commission Junction, is a classic choice in all things affiliate marketing. Having been around for over 20 years, this affiliate network grew to offer over 3,000 products from brand merchants far and wide.
CJ Affiliate caters to brands both big and small across niches, adding to the excitement for affiliates to filter through and join programs of their interest.
CJ Affiliate takes the crown as best overall not only for its varied collection of affiliate programs but also for its advanced affiliate marketing tools. Affiliates come equipped with real-time reporting and performance analysis to determine the profitability of a program or their personal progress as affiliate marketers.
Joining CJ Affiliate is free for all affiliates of intermediate or seasoned experience. Established influencers, content creators, and the like prosper in CJ Affiliate. As for merchants, launching an affiliate program is a guided process with the affiliate network’s team of specialists.
Best for Beginners
|Serves over 100,000 affiliates
|Highly competitive affiliate programs
|High commission rates, up to 75% payouts
|Generating your first sale is a waiting game
|Exclusive educational platform for affiliates and merchants
|Free, robust e-Commerce tools to manage and monitor affiliate programs
|Simple, intuitive interface and signup process for both affiliates and merchants
ClickBank is another long-running affiliate marketing program. Reaching out to over 190 countries and paying more than $5.5 billion in commissions, ClickBank proves its prowess in connecting brands and affiliates.
Despite running for more than 20 years, ClickBank wins as the most beginner-friendly affiliate marketing program. It comes with an educational platform called Spark, introducing new affiliates and merchants to the fundamental skills and information they need to flourish in affiliate marketing.
Merchants on ClickBank have access to exclusive e-Commerce tools and functions to monitor campaign progress and manage affiliates. Built-in functions, such as integrated payments and payout schedules, reduce the need to use multiple applications down to one marketing platform.
Additionally, ClickBank offers some of the higher commission rates in the industry, with up to 75% payouts. Affiliates and brands alike can expect stellar growth with ClickBank.
Best Customization and Integration
|Fully customizable platform
|Cheapest plan starts at $599, which is on the more expensive side
|Automated workflows to manage payments, affiliate onboarding, and affiliate campaign activation
|Steep learning curve in navigating custom features
|More than 650 supported endpoints for tech stack integration
|Performance tracking and real-time analytics for mobile and web use
|Built-in fraud prevention
TUNE boasts a one-of-a-kind customizable platform for merchants, networks, and affiliates to take full control over their affiliate marketing journey. It is equipped with the industry’s best tools for automation and integration to create a business environment tailored especially for the user’s needs.
TUNE is a SaaS affiliate marketing platform featuring top-grade tools, features, and data analytics for an efficient affiliate marketing experience. It offers more than 650 endpoints for custom integrations of other software used in line with affiliate marketing. Merchants and networks handling multiple affiliate programs at a time can ease the workload with automated workflows.
In addition, TUNE features a built-in fraud prevention system to affiliates from malicious activity and spammy clicks. All suspected fraudulent behavior is immediately flagged for the safety and privacy of the affiliates and prospective customers.
TUNE offers subscription plans and a custom quote:
- Bootstrap – $599/month, paid annually
- Scale – $1,500/month, paid annually
The Scale subscription plan is the best-seller, with full access to all of the features the platform has to offer. Unfortunately, there is no free trial but curious merchants and networks can request a demo.
Best Accelerated Payments
|Free, zero charges
|Highly competitive environment, especially for affiliates
|Diverse selection of affiliate programs
|Brands mostly come from the UK and EU, despite the global market scope
|Simple and straightforward interface
|Accelerated payments for quicker payouts and shorter wait times
A successful affiliate program requires happy and motivated affiliates to keep the sales going. Awin commits to delivering payments promptly to over 241,000 affiliates.
Awin works with over 21,000 brands and 15 global markets, offering countless opportunities for affiliates to monetize their content and establish lifelong business relationships with various brands.
Awin operates much like any other affiliate platform, except a majority of its affiliate programs on Awin enable accelerated payments. Affiliates can immediately receive their commission, regardless of the payment status between the brand and the platform.
For affiliates who wish to receive their payments immediately, Awin is your best option. Take note, however, that application for every affiliate program is done individually, and it may take time to confirm the approval for affiliate participation.
Best for Subscription Products and Boxes
|Works with a range of business verticals
|Too many marketing services at a time can overwhelm startups and small businesses
|Fluent in navigating Impact, ShareASale, and Refersion
|Omni-channel strategy may be time-consuming for brands looking for prompt results
|Offers a mix of affiliate marketing, public relations, paid advertising, and influencer marketing
The digital marketing agency Apogee has its roots in affiliate marketing. In fact, its core service remains to assist brands and affiliates connect through its tried and tested affiliate marketing management.
Founded by affiliate marketer Greg Hoffman, Apogee specializes in directing the affiliate marketing efforts of local businesses and subscription boxes. Today, the affiliate marketing agency offers a mix of digital marketing services to deliver a sustainable affiliate program and allow more visibility for their clients. Apogee keeps track of brand sales and affiliate performance on ShareASale, Impact, and Refersion.
Brands interested in exploring Apogee’s affiliate marketing approach may set an appointment for a risk-free consultation here.
Best for Content Creators
|Free for established content creators
|Commission rates are not fixed; varies per product category
|Limitless number of products to link and earn commissions
|Quick and simple to navigate
|In-house link-building tools
With Amazon amassing $469.82 billion in sales for 2021, it isn’t surprising for the e-Commerce giant to establish its own affiliate marketing program. Amazon Associates empowers content creators of all niches to monetize their channels.
Qualifying for the program requires aspiring Associates to verify their digital presence as a blogger, influencer, or content creator. They must present a website or their loyal following on any social channels. Additionally, the content creator’s platform has to comply with the participation requirements of the affiliate marketing program.
Amazon Associates can help in promoting any product sold on Amazon. The program provides affiliates access to custom link-building tools to drive traffic, generate sales, and earn commissions.
Best for Partner Management
|Works with top brands
|The feature-rich interface can overwhelm new affiliates
|Diverse affiliate management
|Not enough brands and affiliate programs to apply for
|Branded user interface
|Real-time reporting and flexible postback capabilities
Impact.com is easily the best platform to maximize partnerships. It emphasizes the need for an affiliate marketing program that can keep up with the breakneck speed of today’s digital trends. Impact.com boasts of a marketplace of reliable affiliates from all corners of the globe for merchants to discover, recruit, and onboard.
It is also the next best upgrade for affiliate marketing and management, with an internal team dedicated to assisting merchants in migrating their programs onto Impact.com.
Affiliates are the top priority in running a successful affiliate campaign. Impact.com takes leaps to care for the security and privacy of affiliates with real-time performance tracking and fraud protection.
Best for Premium Brands
|Works with international brands
|FlexOffers and the affiliate has to split earned commissions, leading to lower earnings
|Saves affiliates from the hassle of applying to branded affiliate programs
|FlexOffers is selective in permitting affiliates to join its network.
|Great choice for beginner affiliate marketers
FlexOffers is a sub-affiliate program of some of the biggest brands in the world, such as Nike, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Samsung.
As a sub-affiliate program, merchants enroll FlexOffers as an independent affiliate on their affiliate program. Affiliates no longer have to directly apply to the merchant, instead using affiliate links provided by FlexOffers.
This, unfortunately, results in lower commission rates, as the affiliate and FlexOffers split every commission earned. Not to mention, FlexOffers can be stingy in giving affiliates the approval to join its network.
Beginner affiliates challenged in getting accepted into affiliate programs can opt for FlexOffers. This program is an excellent intermediary that gives access to some of the most lucrative affiliate marketing programs.
Other Notable Affiliate Marketing Programs
For data-driven marketer
Affise allows brands a close-up view on the performance of affiliate programs through the power of data. This data-driven affiliate marketing platform is equipped with the latest tools to assess and optimize campaign progress, affiliate performance, and traffic. It runs automated workflows to perform scheduled tasks such as daily summaries, affiliate payouts, campaign activation, and more.
For the savvy B2B marketer
PartnerStack is the best friend of B2B businesses in the affiliate marketing industry. It boasts an evergreen marketplace of superstar affiliates from all over the world. Brands are more than welcome to connect with affiliates and invite them to become the faces of their business.
PartnerStack takes pride in the power of partnerships, even adopting an automation process to hasten affiliate recruitment and onboarding. Affiliates are promised with generous commissions and private bonuses upon hitting milestones in their affiliate journey.
For small business marketers
Don’t let the old website setup fool you; ShareASale is home to 5,000 affiliate programs of small companies. In fact, several programs pay around $300 per sale. ShareASale has been around since 2002, and despite its dated interface, sports quite the advanced PowerRank metric. The PowerRank metric ranks an affiliate program in the top 1000 of ShareASale.
For marketers looking beyond Amazon
It’s not often heard of, but PepperJam is home to affiliate programs for established brands like Puma, Lindt, and Orion. PepperJam allows curious affiliates to communicate with advertisers despite not being part of their affiliate program. However, with less than 1,000 brands online, you may immediately run out of programs to join.
For marketers broadening their horizons
Brands and affiliates may wish to look beyond what Amazon or eBay has to offer. Hailing from Japan, Rakuten Advertising features a wide range of products, from electronics to gifts. With over a thousand brands competing to market their products, the application process can be competitive, especially for businesses with poor digital presence.
For the freelance marketer
Fiverr is a popular marketplace for the gig industry, but applying for small gigs here and there isn’t its only purpose. The Fiverr affiliate program grants a freelancer up to $150 per successful referral.
For the hip and creative marketer
Whereas content creators promote a brand’s products in other affiliate marketing platforms, that is simply not the case for Etsy. The Etsy Affiliate program is open for product creators driving traffic through their own product links. In addition to earning direct sales from your product listings, you also lead more web traffic and conversions through affiliate links.
What are the Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for Brands?
Affiliate marketing is proven to be a more effective means to promote a brand’s products and/or services. In fact, Statista reports affiliate marketing spend in the United States alone can reach $8.2 billion in 2022.
Discover how much a brand can benefit from affiliate marketing below:
Increase Customer Acquisition and Drive Revenue Growth
Unlike paid advertising and boosted social media posts, affiliate marketing is a more organic means of promoting a brand. Affiliate marketing uses influencers and content creators to relate to the general public. In fact, 54% of the Gen Z population is convinced with a marketing strategy if it involves an influencer.
Drive Sales, Boost Conversion Rates
Affiliate marketing immediately provides the product link where customers can view the item or place a purchase. The direct follow-up of a product checkout link persuades customers to buy the product or avail of the service immediately.
Build Customer Trust
With influencers and creators marketing for a brand affiliate program, more customers become familiar with the brand. They begin associating the brand with top influencers, establishing trust with the brand over time. Gaining the customers’ trust scales brand awareness and attracts more customers to check out what the brand has to offer.
Our Selection Process for the Best Affiliate Marketing Programs
For the purpose of this article’s ranking, we sifted through affiliate marketing programs with a broad range of tools and features to offer brands and/or affiliates. We ran a thorough check on the overall functionality of the programs. Most programs that made the list serve both brand merchants and affiliate marketers. The quality of integrated e-Commerce and other marketing tools are also essential to selecting a data-driven affiliate marketing program to work with.
While certain programs have extravagant prices, merchants and affiliates generally do not have to worry about fees. Signup processes are free of charge for most affiliate marketing programs.