As it stands, affiliate marketing drives 16 percent of ecommerce sales worldwide, thereby making affiliate strategies an essential component to scaling revenue. This is especially true when one takes into consideration the low-risk, high-ROI nature of affiliate marketing. Moreover, it is that low-risk, high-ROI model that has caused affiliate marketing spend in the United States to swell by nearly 52 percent in the past five years.
However, to reap the benefits of affiliate marketing, ecommerce brands require the tools to create, manage, and optimize their own programs, which is where affiliate marketing software platforms become a crucial component to success.
Affiliate marketing software platforms are the bedrock of ecommerce success as they enable brands to find and recruit a steady stream of high-performing affiliates, manage affiliate relationships and campaigns, automate commission payouts, and handle other vital aspects of affiliate marketing.
To help ecommerce brands maximize their affiliate marketing potential, today, we will examine what affiliate software platforms are, the benefits they provide, what to look for in a platform, and go over nine of the top affiliate marketing software platforms for maximizing affiliate marketing revenue.
What Are Affiliate Marketing Software Platforms?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing software platforms allow online brands to streamline and automate many of the day-to-day tasks required for running an affiliate program and marketing campaigns.
Thus, affiliate platforms will assist in affiliate discovery, recruitment, and onboarding, as well as essential tasks like sharing creative assets, tracking sales, monitoring individual affiliate efforts and overall campaign performance, providing information on which affiliate strategies are most effective, setting commission rates, and other critical responsibilities.
Where managing all these assignments and extracting actionable information would require a dedicated team, affiliate marketing software platforms serve to do a considerable portion of the heavy lifting for a brand.
What Benefits Do Affiliate Marketing Platforms Provide?
As touched upon above, affiliate marketing software platforms provide a multitude of benefits to ecommerce brands.
First and foremost, many offer a way to find and connect with potential affiliates, while more premium offerings supply a variety of affiliate recruiting solutions to help better suit the needs of different brands. These kinds of networks take out much of the legwork required for identifying, enlisting, and onboarding new affiliates, influencers, publishers, and the like, as well as help manage those relationships over time.
At the same time, a good affiliate marketing software provides brands with the functionality necessary to manage, track, and optimize affiliate campaign performance via dashboards, reporting features, and other data analysis tools.
Finally, affiliate marketing platforms should also supply brands with a means of automating affiliate payments, thereby saving teams tons of time making individual transfers each month to untold numbers of affiliates and partners.
These are just some of the primary benefits that affiliate marketing software platforms provide.
Features to Look for In an Affiliate Marketing Software Platform
The fact is that there are a lot of different affiliate platforms available online. Thus, it is crucial to know how to choose an affiliate marketing software solution that will be effective in helping a brand to increase its awareness and sales.
Some things to look for in a good affiliate marketing software platform include the following:
- An extensive affiliate network: Affiliate platforms that offer brands a sizable network of affiliates from which they can recruit considerably cut down on the amount of time, effort, and resources required to grow the brand’s affiliate program.
- Integration options: A useful affiliate platform must be able to seamlessly integrate with whichever ecommerce platform the brand utilizes, as well as a variety of other management, marketing, and payment applications.
- Affiliate performance breakdowns: The selected platform should provide the brand with a clear picture of its affiliates’ performance, including metrics on top affiliates, sales, clicks, conversion rates, traffic sources, and other key data points.
- Customizable commission structures: Affiliate platforms should give brands the freedom to create customized commission rates based on different SKUs or product categories, as well as the option for flat fees, bonuses, tiered structures, and more.
- Automation tools: Brands should have the ability to pay commissions automatically, send onboarding materials to new affiliates, and manage other sorts of rote tasks.
- Payout options: To make things as easy as possible for brands and affiliates, affiliate marketing software platforms should provide a variety of options for paying affiliates.
- Discretion over cookie windows: Depending on the season, campaign, product price, and other pressing factors, ecommerce brands should have the ability to adjust the attribution window for affiliate sales.
- Built-in CRM: Smoothly managing affiliate campaigns means that brands need to be capable of supplying partners with creative materials like images, approved messaging, info on product launches, and the like. Affiliate marketing software platforms should facilitate this via a CRM and various communication tools.
- Fraud detection: While most folks are honest, there will always be those looking to game the system. Thus, affiliate platforms should have built-in fraud detection designed to catch fake traffic and orders.
With these key features out of the way, let’s take a look at the nine best affiliate platform options available to ecommerce brands.
The Nine Best Affiliate Marketing Software Platforms for Increasing Revenue
While there are quite a few decent options available to ecommerce brands, the absolute best of the best include:
With over 60,000 brands using our platform, Refersion is one of the leading affiliate marketing platforms in the industry today.
Refersion easily integrates with all major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Amazon, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and others. Additionally, Refersion also features Zapier-powered integrations for over 2,000 marketing, management, and other commerce-related applications.
Refersion arms ecommerce brands with all the features and tools needed to craft and scale an affiliate marketing program, such as custom commission structures, affiliate tracking and performance metrics, payment scheduling, affiliate tax management, and other valuable features.
Additionally, the platform also offers customizable dashboards, enabling ecommerce brands to gain everything from a high-level overview of the entire affiliate program to personalized dashboards focusing on individual affiliates and even custom dashboards created using Refersion’s GraphQL or REST API.
On top of a suite of powerful program management and marketing features, Refersion also features a massive and searchable network of over 3.6 million affiliates, influencers, and publishers from which brands can recruit and onboard to their program. With different levels of recruitment tools available to users, our platform provides a near-unlimited potential for recruitment and expansion.
For those that are merely looking for an affiliate platform to help manage the brand’s existing affiliates, Affiliatly is a good budget-conscious option.
Affiliatly is a simple affiliate tracking software that enables brands engaged in affiliate marketing to manage their partnerships from a single dashboard, tracking affiliate sales by dedicated links, coupon codes, email, and the like.
While not as feature-rich as some of the other options on this list, Affiliatly gives brands access to valuable tools such as affiliate portals, custom commission settings, different ways to pay affiliates, and even affiliate popups to help convert customers into brand ambassadors.
Affiliate marketing software platform Impact.com is another top-tier option for ecommerce brands, with its primary focus being on automating and optimizing partnership lifecycles via the platform’s Partnership Automation™ features.
Presenting users with a decently sized database of affiliates from which to recruit, a variety of marketing tools, affiliate program analytics and reporting, Impact.com is a solid affiliate marketing selection for any brand.
Impact.com also gives users access to a robust contract and payout system via Dynamic Payouts, which allows brands to alter commissions based on a multitude of different factors like order sizes, SKU, customer type, and much more.
Impact.com’s system provides detailed data that give insights on affiliate performance throughout the entire sales funnel, customer lifetime values, device usage, competitive insights, and tons of other useful tools for driving ecommerce growth.
Additionally, this affiliate marketing software platform also gives users peace of mind through its protection and monitoring features that help ensure compliance and safeguard against any potential fraud.
Of course, given the nature of the platform, Impact.com also integrates with a variety of popular ecommerce platforms, marketing applications, data and analytics tools, CRM platforms, and more.
Another popular choice for ecommerce brands is Tapfiliate, an affiliate marketing software platform that helps users to automate workflows, onboarding processes, social media shares, drip campaigns, and the like.
However, Tapfiliate provides much more than just automation services, supplying users with advanced tracking and reporting capabilities, custom payout methods, social sharing tools, flexible commission structures, integrations with more than 30 SaaS platforms, custom integrations, and other valuable features.
Where Tapfiliate sets itself apart is that the platform promises complete brand control, giving users access to white label affiliate pages and signup forms, personalized affiliate links and coupon codes, and other branded elements.
Additionally, Tapfiliate is part of the Amitad network, which means that Tapfiliate users can access a network of more than 100,000 publishers to forge partnerships with and contract to promote their products. This is an excellent feature for affiliate marketing software to possess as it is important for brands to partner with coupon publishers and similar types of sites, though manually finding and contracting them can be a time-consuming process.
5. CJ Affiliate
Formerly known as commission junction, CJ Affiliate is an excellent affiliate marketing software platform for medium-sized and enterprise businesses, providing an expansive network of nearly 170,000 high-performing affiliates and influencers where brands can find and engage top performers in new partnerships that will help to increase awareness and sales.
CJ supports brands like Barnes & Noble, CNN, BuzzFeed News, Zappos, Lowes, Overstock, and other massive businesses. Thus, brands that opt for this platform need to be ready to compete with these kinds of companies. However, smaller brands do exist in the company’s network as well.
As one of the oldest affiliate programs around, CJ has a plethora of valuable features, including a full integration suite designed to unlock insights across an organization, item-level tracking, robust fraud protection features, insight into the ideal publisher and partnership opportunities, customizable commissioning abilities, and tons of other powerful features and components.
Most notably, CJ Affiliates arms brands with unique tools like Deep Link Automation and Product Widgets, each of which are potent elements for helping to boost affiliate ROI.
Another of the most senior affiliate marketing software platforms is ClickBank. Launched in the same year as CJ (or Commission Junction, as it was known back then), ClickBank has grown into one of the largest affiliate marketplaces online.
Featuring a global audience of more than 200 million customers and a network of over 100,000 affiliates, ClickBank offers many of the same features that have been seen from the previously-discussed affiliate marketing software platforms, including customized commission models, various ecommerce tools for creating product offers, affiliate reporting, payment systems, third-party integrations, tracking links, fraud protection, robust reporting features, and similar elements.
However, unlike some of the options listed above, there are a fair number of pros and cons about ClickBank that ecommerce brands would need to evaluate prior to signing up for the platform.
For instance, while ClickBank does offer marketing education to its users, much of this is geared toward novices, as the barrier to entry on this platform is relatively low. However, this does not mean that it is a bad option for brands to utilize.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Cake, an affiliate marketing software platform that allows brands to manage their entire affiliate program via a single tool. Cake offers users many different features and solutions, including single-view dashboards, end-to-end lead generation tools, various automation components, real-time reporting, flexible commission structures, white-label portal interfaces, device tracking, robust fraud protection, and many other potent elements for optimizing programs and driving growth.
However, where Awin has a very low barrier to entry, Cake is just the opposite, as it does not support any pre-made promotional tools for marketers who are just getting started with affiliate marketing. Additionally, Cake does not have an affiliate marketplace to recruit from, which means that those who opt for this solution must already have a network in place and a means of attracting new affiliates.
Born out of a merger between zanox and Affiliate Window in 2017, Awin has become one of the largest affiliate marketing software platforms in the industry.
Boasting more than 240,000 affiliate partners and over 20,000 advertisers, Awin features many of the marketing and reporting features that can be found on nearly all the other options on this list. However, Awin does not possess some critical elements that brands would expect from a platform of this size, including fraud detection security.
Thus, while Awin can be a great resource for ecommerce brands looking to break into affiliate marketing, most brands need more tools at their disposal to direct program and sales growth effectively.
Still, depending on where a brand is at in its affiliate marketing journey and commitment to the strategy, this could be a good place to get started.
9. Referral Rock
Another solid solution for ecommerce brands is Referral Rock.
Created for affiliate marketers seeking to grow their referrals, this affiliate marketing software platform offers customizable portals, flexible reward programs, a variety of integrations with various ecommerce platforms, tracking and reporting features, automatic payouts, marketing tools like social media sharing and triggered emails, team accounts, and other useful features.
One of the best parts about Referral Rock is that all its plans are accompanied by comprehensive customer support, including a kickoff call, program audits, technical integration assistance, a dedicated success manager, training on referral best practices, and more.
Choosing the Best Affiliate Marketing Software Platform for Your Brand
There are scores of different affiliate platforms available to brands today, which is a blessing and a curse for many. However, utilizing the list above, you can effectively separate the wheat from the chaff and find the best affiliate marketing software platform for your brand’s needs.
If your brand is ready to commit to affiliate marketing and is looking for a high-growth solution, reach out to Refersion to see how we can help you to identify top-performing partners, measure partnership success, and accelerate your brand’s affiliate marketing ROI.